Within the United States, 40% of schools do not provide our children with recess. Parents and people who care about children need to advocate for those too young to do so on their own.
The United Nations’ Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1959) states in Article 7, paragraph 3 that “The child shall have full opportunity for play and recreation which should be directed to the same purposes as education; society and the public authorities shall endeavor to promote the enjoyment of this right;” In 1990, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Convention of Rights of the Child.
Among the many important rights of the child recognized by the convention includes Article 31. “The right to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.”
- Talk to your child. Let your child share if they experience recess and what happens in school during that time.
- Network- communicate with other parents and find out what their children are experiencing.
- Set up a meeting with your child’s classroom teacher to find out if, when and how often the class has recess. The length of recess time is important as well as rules for deciding if children have indoor vs. outdoor recess. This is also a good opportunity to learn about procedures of when a child is kept from participating in recess.
- Contact your president of your PTA, PTSA, PA, PO, SEPTA or other school parent association to discuss concerns regarding recess.
- Through your school parent association, set up a meeting with your principal to discuss recess and concerns.
- Find out how recess is defined by your school administration. Does recess mean providing a child with a break from class to leave their seat or to have an opportunity to expend energy and learn through play situations.
- Who supervises our children during recess?
- In the area of recess, what type of specialized training have these supervisors received?
- Are the school administrators utilizing indoor and outdoor space for maximum participation during recess?
- Does the school have adequate equipment used specifically for recess or do the children need to share equipment used by the physical education teacher?
What else can we do?
- Provide information regarding the importance of recess to your school newspaper, civic association newsletters, local community newspapers and main newspapers.
- Get the word out about the importance of recess – contact local radio and television stations.
- Join other schools within your school district and plan a community playday.
- Gain media attention by having an outstanding and community involved recess program.
- Have the children get involved in fundraising and selecting recess equipment for their school.
- Invite guest speakers to school and community meetings to discuss the importance of recess.
- Use your PTA to include, within their state resolutions, recess as a mandatory part of each school day.
- Work with your elected officials and school board to have recess included for each child every day in school.
The more informed you are, the better prepared you will be to advocate. Speaking up for our children is something we all can do. Contact us for more information!