Saturday, 11 February 2012

Structured Recess?

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As I was rummaging through growingyoungmovers website I came across a question posed under daily physical activity, it asked, “What do you think of the idea of a structured recess for elementary students?”

Well I will tell you what I think…

We are told by many active lifestyle programs, like Saskatchewan in motion, that kids need 60 minutes of physical activity or more every day and more is always better. Many suggest structured play during recess will help kids achieve those 60 minutes a day, because in some cases kids are not getting any minutes of physical activity during a school day. I do not think having structured recess is the answer for this problem. I think we have to go back to the roots. We should ask ourselves, “Why are kids not achieving any physical activity minutes in a school day?” It states in the Saskatchewan Education Curriculum that physical education should be 150 minutes of instruction per week. (Break that down into approx. 30 min a day) So the problem is not about having a structured recess but having a structured/organized school day.

If we look at a structured recess what problems can that create? One, many students dislike physical activity, because it is forced upon them during the time of day where normally students would have some freedom. Second, does the social aspect of recess time get pushed to the side? Having a structured recess would leave less time for kids of similar age to discuss topics of interest to them. Third, forced physical activities during recess might turn kids off of physical movement completely.

We must also look at the positives of a structured recess. One, structured recess could in fact decrease bullying because students are engaged in a physical activity while supervised/instructed. Second, it would guarantee active movement. Third…well frankly I cannot come up of a good reason to support this…

I believe that recess should be a time for kids to have a break from the structure of a school day, to release energy on their own terms, and socialize with their friends. Students that are structured too much will lose their sense of adventure and lose chances for exploring their curiosities.  

What are your thoughts about a structured recess?


  1. Good topic Harmony. I agree with your end statement of recess being a time to release energy on their own terms and socialize. I also believe that students need that brain break from the already structured school day. Do you ever remember having indoor recess when it was too cold to go outside? I know I remember. It was chaos! The students would be going stir crazy from not being able to go and get fresh air, and the teacher was pulling out her hair to keep the students in the classroom and busy for those 20 god awful minutes. Students NEED a free recess. Kids these days have way too much structure in their lives, from school, to sports, to music lessons, to tutoring. Recess is that sliver of freedom the students get during the day- it might even be the ONLY freedom they get all day.


  2. You make some really good points and I completely agree with them all! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Interesting post Harmony! I also agree with you in that recess is the time for kids to relax and.. just be kids. Recess is like a big brain break for students to blow off energy before having to focus in the classroom again. If recess was also structured it would be like adding another class or two to the school day because the students would be required to follow instructions and participate in what was expected.

  4. I am in agreement that recess should remain free time for students to blow off of some steam and stress however they would like. I hope that through a successful, encouraging Phys Ed class students would be encouraged to participate in some form of physical activity on their recess break. However, sometimes students just need the time of recess to be alone, maybe read and I do not think that we should tell students 'no you have to run around or play an active game'.

  5. Great post Harmony! I agree that recess should be a period where students get to do what they want to do. This is a time where students get to be free from a structured/controlled environment. When I was young I couldn't wait for recess because it meant that I could play and do things without a teacher telling me what to do. Students get built up energy throughout the day and become anxious, therefore, in order for your students to release that energy they need that time. Even an indoor recess, which Selena mentioned, is a time where students are able to have free time. However, the physical aspect in not implemented enough. Therefore, students need that physical activity in a large area, outside, that is not structured.