Recess and Self-Regulation

photo by Allan Mas

Imagine a situation where children are required to stay in one place and eat no food every day for hours on end. To mitigate this, they’re allowed to have one small snack. Some children do okay with just this one small snack, but other children continue to complain of hunger, even after eating their snack.

The adults around them get angry and threaten to take away their snack. Maybe they even do take half of it away, or all of it away, and make them sit there hungry instead. “You’re not behaving, so you don’t get to eat.”

There would be absolute outrage. But that’s the equivalent of what happens regularly in classrooms as young as kindergarten — I still see it all the time.

Threatening children with taking away recess is one of the most counter-productive things that I still see teachers do constantly in their classroom and absolutely accept as normal.

Recess is an incredible tool for self-regulation. Many children, who don’t need any extra help, learn to use that tool to get themselves regulated for the rest of their day.

The children who are more wiggly and don’t get themselves fully regulated with just a “normal” amount of recess, are not bad and do not need to be threatened! They need more of it, not less of it!

From an original post at The Occuplaytional Therapist on Facebook.