Merits of Recess
It is good news that in Atlanta public schools the kids have 20 minutes of recess, which is much better than what Greeley, Colorado kids get. They are lucky if they get 10 minutes right before or after they have lunch! Since this activity is part of the lunch break it cannot really be called recess!

Research by Anthony Pellegrini, who wrote the book Recess:Its Role in Education and Development , suggests that kids actually need breaks during long blocks of concentration, such as are forced on the kids in Greeley who have daily literacy blocks of 90 minutes straight, even in kindergarten!

Pellegrini states (p.150) "Evidence from Japan and Taiwan (Stevenson & Lee, 1990) suggest that children's attention to classwork is maximized when instructional periods are relatively short, not long, and intense. Specifically, in these countries children are given a break every 50 minutes or so. When children came back from these breaks, they seemed more attentive and ready to work than before the breaks.

(p.153) In Japanese schools, primary school children typically have a 10-15 minute break every hour or so (Stevenson & Lee, 1990).

(p.155) Given the reliability of the deprivation effects observed in the experiments reported here, it is time for schools to systematically study their recess policies. So while it is common for schools, and politicians, to extol Asian educational practices, they should also consider Asian recess practices.

(p.177) If schools are reluctant to implement these practices, it is necessary to contact like-minded parents, educators, citizens to demand "accountability". Accountability here means that educational practice should follow data.

Ask educators who refuse to implement recess how they know-empirically- that eliminating or reducing recess improves instruction. Do this at PTA meetings, school board meetings, and when superintendents of school are interviewing for jobs in your district. These are your children and your tax dollars, so demand accountability.

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