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Schools look at cutting recess, Akron school does the opposite and sees positive effects

Posted at 6:00 AM, Feb 20, 2017

Amid all the requirements being forced on schools, many are opting to get rid of a school staple… recess.

Administrators say they need more time to teach with testing always right around the corner. But in Akron, some school officials are bucking the trend and taking things in another direction.

In one Akron school, teachers noticed kids were getting restless, having a lack of energy, and not even paying attention to the curriculum they were being force-fed.

That’s when the teachers saw recess as the answer instead of the problem.

At Akron’s Betty Jane Elementary School, recess this year went from 15 to 20 minutes every day. Just five minutes, but five minutes, that according to the school principal, make all the difference.

Teachers and the principal argue that, with more requirements than ever before, kids have to be engaged for longer, which is hard for a child, to sit there, full attention for hours on end. Since the recess increase though, there’s been a noticeable effect. For one, student test scores, measured from fall semester to spring, have gone up.

An initial concern was that fights on the playground would increase, with more time spent there. Instead, the opposite has happened and students expend more energy and are less restless when they’re playing.

“When they interact with each other in the classroom, that’s usually structured, but they also need to know, what’s it like when I’m interacting in an unstructured environment and I’m facing social interactions, how do I work my way through those? The better they get at that, the better they get at the interactions we expect from them within the classroom,” said Kim Summers, Principal of the Betty Jane Elementary School.

The kids at Betty Jane, grades Kindergarten through 5th, also do a “Fit Five” routine every morning, consisting of five minutes of aerobics exercise immediately following the morning announcements. The principal says that program contributes to overall student productivity as well.