Monday 4 March 2019

Ready for Recess?

Submitted by: Heather Rootsaert, HPEC Edmonton Co-Regional Representative

Hello fellow HPECers! As Alberta endures what feels like the longest record low temperature streak in forever, forcing students to stay inside for recess after recess, I thought it timely to blog about the importance of recess and share some resources and ideas of what other Canadians are doing to support it.

In relation to schools, recess is a temporary break(s) from the usual school work that occurs throughout the school day. Regardless of the temperature outside or other circumstances like student behaviour, staff members and students of all ages need these regularly scheduled breaks throughout the day, everyday. So why have many AB schools abolished the afternoon recess and/or why are teachers still “punishing” student behaviour by taking the much needed recess break away?

When we talk about the importance of a Comprehensive School Health (CSH) approach and spreading Physical Literacy throughout our schools, we have to look beyond what is happening solely in the classroom. CSH requires that the whole school community be invested & involved and Physical Literacy takes into account four domains of a person: physical, social, emotional and cognitive.

Therefore, recess is a significant piece of the pie that should not be overlooked. Recess, like Physical Education, is so much more than just the physical. We cannot separate the physical domain from the social or the cognitive or the emotional domains. Children (people) are not wired that way!  Recess is an essential break that can provide a short distraction for children, help break up long periods of sedentary time, enhance children’s development in all four of the domains of physical literacy and provide children with the benefits of being outdoors. I would strongly argue that these benefits can be for big kids, adults, too!

If you haven’t heard about what Bruderheim, AB is trying out this year as far as recess, I encourage you to click on this link - Stretching Out Recess: One Alberta school doubled its breaks and is finding more focused kids

Also, the Canadian Public Health Association has just launched this article on recess and outdoor play that has some useful information as well as additional references and links to check out.

Lastly, for now, the province of Quebec put out this resource in 2017 which also has some great advocacy points and suggestions for schools Recess: An Important Aspect to School Success

All the best as we, hopefully, head into spring in the next few weeks! Who is ready for recess? We ALL should be!