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  • Never underestimate the passion and strength of a group of MOMs



    Recess time – It’s a hot topic which a lot of passionate parents in Miami are bringing to the table. A growing number of moms and parents fear that recess is disappearing from schools and needs to be rescued.

    Education is critical in a child’s life, there is no doubt about that. Most people also agree that all work and no play, is not beneficial to anyone especially when it comes to kids. Most progressive educational systems look at the “whole child” and include “play” time as a key component of the learning process.

    Why is the US having different views about this?  Some might view recess as the time during the school day where there’s a break from what is considered the most “serious” work of the day – reading, writing and arithmetic, etc. This view places all emphasis on instruction and has grown since the 1980’s due to increased academic and testing demands. Yes, loud and clear,  it is a fact that although recess has traditionally been a regular practice in primary school settings, today recess is being reduced or eliminated in an effort to provide more instructional time and increased achievement.

    Educating kids for the  21st century requires much more than academics. There is an evident gap between the knowledge and skills most students learn in school and the knowledge and skills they need in typical 21st century communities and business environments. The focus is on building  “21st century skills” which among others encompass empathy, connectivity, collaboration, resilience, creativity and relationship building. The ideal would be an educational system that supports children in becoming successful, loving, empathic, cooperative, happy, balanced, and contributing members of our world. In an educational system such as this recess would be a key component of the learning process.

    The available research suggests that recess can play an important role in the learning, social development and health of elementary school children. Studies show that recess benefits students as they need to blow off energy and interact with each other in an unstructured environment. Moreover and touching close to home, a recent study led by Jeffrey Brosco, M.D, PhD. Professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, has identified a possible correlation between the prevalence of ADHD and increasing academic demands on young children. Brosco states that “at a young age, what’s most important is that kids experience free play, social interactions and use of imagination”. Moreover, he states that “In the United States, we’ve decided that increasing academic demands on young children’s is a good thing, what we haven’t considered are the potential negative effects”

    In view of all the benefits and considering we are fortunate to be part of one of the most progressive districts (Yes, unlike others, Miami-Dade does count with a District Policy and Recess Manual) a group of active moms out of Key Biscayne K-8 Center has decided to petition for additional recess time (from the current 2-3 days to 5 days a week). The group petitions the School Board of Miami-Dade County and Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho to mandate a daily scheduled time for all students in Pre-kindergarten through grade 5 to have at least 20 consecutive minutes of supervised, safe, and unstructured free-play recess per day, 5 days per week, and preferably outdoors (weather permitting). The petition also states that “Free-play recess shall not be withheld for academic or punitive reasons and it shall not replace nor be a substitute for physical education”.

    The petition was born February 27th just a few days ago and is already counting with over 5,000 signatures. I encourage you to visit the petition at change.org , sign it if you feel passionate about this topic and share with other parents.

    Hopefully, as active participants in the educational journey of our children, our authorities, decision makers, administrators, community and parents will collaborate as partners to position 21st century readiness at the center of  Miami-Dade education.

    “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;”

    United Nations’ Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1959), especially Article 7, paragraph 3 




    1- Anthony D. Pellegrini and Catherine M. Bohn, The Role of Recess in Children’s Cognitive Performance and School Adjustment

    2- Jeffrey P. Brosco, M.D., Ph.D, Increasing ADHD Rates May Be Linked to Heightened Academic Expectations for Young Children


    Photo Credit:  IPA/USA



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