Menu

When it comes to classroom discipline, each school has its own set of rules—but a universally popular response to misbehavior is to prohibit kids from participating in recess.


The problem is that a large body of research has shown recess benefits kids’ mental and physical health. So when that time to play and enjoy fresh air is stripped away as a disciplinary tactic, the consequences may be worse than intended.

Although now on the decline, withholding recess was once common practice in schools across the country. School administrators have, in the past, argued that taking away free-play time is an effective way of curbing poor behavior among students. A 2010 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation survey found 77% of principals reported withholding recess as punishment. That’s a slight decrease from the results of a 2006 study published in the Journal of School Health, which discovered that more than 81% of school districts adopted such a no-recess policy.

FEATURED VIDEO

Increasingly, though, school officials are recognizing that taking away recess does more harm than good for a child’s physical, emotional and behavioral health. As a result, many districts are now getting rid of the practice.

“That physical activity and unstructured play, those things are not luxuries for kids,” says Sara Zimmerman, technical-assistance director of Safe Routes to School National Partnership, in an interview with Education Week. “That’s a key part of how kids learn and how they grow.”

In a 2012 position paper, the American Academy of Pediatrics stated that safe, supervised recess time benefits a student’s cognitive, social, emotional and physical development by giving them a break from the “concentrated, academic challenges in the classroom.” Experts from the AAP continued at the time, “Recess is unique from, and a complement to, physical education—not a substitute for it.”

Multiple studies have shown that, when kids have at least 20 minutes of recess—the recommended time from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—they become more attentive and productive in class. Research has also proven play can help children develop communication skills, such as problem-solving and cooperation. It’s also shown to help with coping skills, such as self-control and determination.

In fact, a 2014 University of Colorado-Boulder study published in Frontiers in Psychology discovered 6-year-old students who engaged in free play and other unstructured activities more often had stronger levels of executive functioning, such as time management and decision-making skills.

“Executive function is extremely important for children. It helps them in all kinds of ways throughout their daily lives, from flexibly switching between different activities rather than getting stuck on one thing, to stopping themselves from yelling when angry, to delaying gratification,” the study’s senior author Yuko Munakata, a psychology and neuroscience professor at CU-Boulder, says in the findings. “Executive function during childhood also predicts important outcomes, like academic performance, health, wealth and criminality, years and even decades later.”

Lawmakers have even started to recognize the necessity of recess for students. As of 2015, at least 11 states have passed laws prohibiting schools from withholding recess as a form of discipline, according to Education Week. And this past fall, lawmakers in Massachusetts began to weigh a bill that would make 20 minutes of recess mandatory in schools.

There’s no denying that recess plays a crucial role in a kid’s life. Let’s just hope more schools realize that taking it away is more detrimental than anything.

Motherhood is a practice in learning, growing and loving more than you ever thought possible. Even as a "veteran" mama of four young sons and one newly adopted teenager, Jalyssa Richardson enthusiastically adapts to whatever any given day has in store—a skill she says she's refined through the years.

Here's what just one day in her life looks like:


Jalyssa says she learned to embrace agility throughout her motherhood journey. Here's more from this incredible mama of five boys.

What is the most challenging part of your day as a mom of five?

Time management! I want to meet each of the boys' individual needs—plus show up for myself—but I often feel like someone gets overlooked.

What's the best part of being a mom of five?

The little moments of love. The hugs, the kisses, the cuddles, the smiles... they all serve as little reminders that I am blessed and I'm doing okay.

Are there misconceptions about raising boys?

There are so many misconceptions about raising boys. I think the biggest one is that boys don't have many emotions and they're just so active all the time. My boys display many emotions and they also love to be sweet and cuddly a lot of the time.

What do you think would surprise people the most about being a mom of five?

How much I enjoy it. I never knew I wanted to be a mom until I was pregnant with my first. My desire only grew and the numbers did! I am surprised with every single baby as my capacity to love and nurture grows. It's incredible.

How do you create balance and make time for yourself?

Balance for me looks like intentional planning and scheduling because I never want my boys to feel like they aren't my first priority, but it is extremely difficult. What I try to do is not fit it all into one day. I have work days because motherhood is my first priority. I fit in segments of self-care after the kids' bedtime so I don't grow weary.

What's the biggest lesson you have learned from motherhood?

I have learned that sacrifice is actually beautiful. I was terrified of the selflessness motherhood would require, but I've grown so much through the sacrifice. There is nothing better than living for something bigger than myself.

When did you first feel like a mom? How has your motherhood evolved?

I first felt like a mom when I was pregnant with my first son and I intentionally chose to change my eating habits so my body could be strong and healthy for him. I didn't have to think twice—I just did what I thought would be best for him. That decision being so effortless made me realize I was made for motherhood.

My perspective has changed with each baby as I've realized motherhood doesn't have to be one-size-fits-all. With my first son, I was a by-the-book mama and it was so stressful. With each baby, I have felt more freedom and it has made motherhood so much more beautiful. I have evolved into the mother that they need, I am perfect for these boys.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners