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Alternatives to taking away recess

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
Last semester my son's teacher was taking away recess for him messing around and not focusing in class. I let her know that I thought taking away recess contributed to the problem more than it solved. She said she would try to avoid taking away recess but didn't make any promises. He hasn't told me that he's been kept in since (of course it got really cold and we had a long stretch when it was too cold to go out for recess). Well today his whole class, except two kids, lost 4 minutes of recess time for talking in line.

So it wasn't the whole recess. However, I just don't think taking away recess helps anything. I really feel they need that social and physical outlet. I just think it makes it harder to give the teacher the behavior they want.

But when I email her to complainn about the lost recess time (If I decide to do so) I want to be constructive. When I mentioned to my husband how I just don't find taking away recess time to be appropriate. His question was "What else can they take away?" "What other consequences can they do instead?"

So what do you consider appropriate consequences for undesirable classroom behaviors?
post #2 of 25
I know some teachers that made kids walk the line. They would have to walk around the basketball court or on another line. This gives them an energy outlet, but without the friends.
post #3 of 25
Sort of like "you took away my time by talking, now I'll take away your talking time"?
post #4 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by sapphire_chan View Post
Sort of like "you took away my time by talking, now I'll take away your talking time"?
Pretty much. The reasoning was "If you take away my lesson time, I take it back during fun time". The more "hardcore" teachers would be out there reteaching the kid the lesson. If they didn't want to listen and learn during class they could do it during recess.
post #5 of 25
I am completely on the side of not taking away recess. My feeling is that in elementary school, especially early elementary, play is still the "work" of young children. It's essential, and to deny the need that children have for free, unstructured, play during the day is to my mind, a misunderstnding of the developmental needs of young children. I truly do not understand how taking away the physical break of recess creates a child who is able to focus and spend more time sitting and learning. I think it sets the child up for defeat.

Alternatives? I'm not sure. Does it need to be punishment, or experienced as a deprivation to be effective? I would love to know if there are ideas around more positive reinforcement of behavior, or if a consequnce is needed, could it be directed toward making a positive contribution in the school or classroom community? I'm not sure what this would look like-have to think a bit more.
post #6 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by karne View Post
Does it need to be punishment, or experienced as a deprivation to be effective?
Personally, I think it's a problem that it made it to having to have threats and consequences. I think that this class would benefit from better classroom management in general. I also do feel that there could be more positive reinforcements in place in the classroom.

But, I'm also trying to remember that there is obviously a mentality that there needs to be a punishment and consequence or there wouldn't have been one (or issues with it in the past). So I am trying to work within the existing mind-frame when I broach alternatives. If that makes sense.

I know that 4 minutes of recess doesn't seem like a big deal to many. But it has been whole recesses in the past (not for the whole class but for individual kids). Plus it has been so insanely cold here. I don't think they had outside recess in a month before the last couple of days. It seems the height of cruelty to deny the kids recess time now that it is actually warm enough to let them go outside.

He's in second grade if that matters in anyone's suggestions.
post #7 of 25
This is a tough one...my DD is now in 2nd grade and the first time it happened in K, I was pretty upset. But, it was effective for her. She's spent a ton of time chit chatting during a self-directed work time and hadn't gotten her work done. The teacher didn't keep kids in just for not finishing (if they'd worked hard and didn't get it done they didn't have to stay in), but she did use it occasionally. I don't think her 1st grade teacher ever used it and only recently has her 2nd grade teacher used taking away recess as a form of punishment (it was also for not staying on task during a self-directed time).

All three of these teachers had amazing classroom management skills and taking away recess was used only sparingly, but I still think it has problems. In their defense though I'm not sure what the alternative is...
post #8 of 25
My cousin's son had attention issues when he was in elementary and his teachers would take away recess. We did some research and found studies that said kids are way more focused for up to 3 hours after students have physical activity in the outdoors. So by taking away recess, the teacher is defeating her own objective. (This kid would lose recess for the entire week on Monday b/c of how the system worked, so it was really a problem). My cousin did not seek out a DX of ADD for her son, but she told the teacher that if the constant loss of recess didn't stop, she would get the DX and a 504 plan that would prevent the loss of recess. Pretty easy to justify with the info we had found. My cousin even asked if the teacher would give extra homework instead. She refused because, "he finishes his work so quickly." Okaaayyyy. Anyway, they never really resolved it to my cousin's satisfaction, but she made sure her son didn't have the same teacher again.
post #9 of 25
Our district's wellness policy prohibits using a loss of recess as a discipline method.

Teachers, as a rule, appear to ignore the district's wellness policy.

However, having read our district's policy, it appears as though having such a policy is part of a federal mandate, so it's possible that your district already has such a policy on the books.

My DD's class teacher uses a variety of methods to stop behaviors before they start with various routines to refocus the class's attention (like everyone in the class responds with clapping sequences from the teacher, bringing attention back to the class).
post #10 of 25
I totally agree that its counter-productive.

I liked a PP suggestion of walking the line... or a limited recess. So, you can do xyz, but you've lost use of the jungle gym or whatever.

I actually found a few links with ideas.

http://www.peacefulplaygrounds.com/recess-alt.htm

http://www.proteacher.net/discussion...d.php?t=188808

http://www.cspinet.org/nutritionpoli...ve_rewards.pdf
post #11 of 25
when I did preschool, we took away certain areas for free play if they weren't cleaned up, as a last resort.

So I suppose you could do that with recess, limit what they get to do rather than the amt. of time outside. Plus then if kids stay in somebody has to supervise them which I think would be a pain to schedule.

like the walk the line thing. Or loss of a favorite area but not the entire recess and energy-expenditure.

I would think with all the childhood obesity talk and lack of exercise talk they would want to NOT take away a major source of exercise and fun.

Or how about loss of another favored 'free-time' activity? like in the schools here, they have a computer lab time where they basically play games. Take away something like that or limit its time...MOST kids I know are motivated by that too. (my son would probably be more devastated by the loss of 10 minutes of computer time than by recess...)
post #12 of 25
I too would prefer that teachers focus less on punishments, but it does seem to be pervasive and with 20+ kids and a tight time frame, I understand where they're coming from.

I guess I would ask what the main problem is: Is it that he's not getting his work done, or is he disrupting/disturbing others? If it's that he's not getting his work done, I would think that assigning him the work to take home would make more sense than taking away recess. If he's disturbing others, then maybe moving his desk or having him sit somewhere a little out of the main action is an option?
post #13 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by oceanbaby View Post
I too would prefer that teachers focus less on punishments, but it does seem to be pervasive and with 20+ kids and a tight time frame, I understand where they're coming from.

I guess I would ask what the main problem is: Is it that he's not getting his work done, or is he disrupting/disturbing others? If it's that he's not getting his work done, I would think that assigning him the work to take home would make more sense than taking away recess. If he's disturbing others, then maybe moving his desk or having him sit somewhere a little out of the main action is an option?
Oh, you'll love this. When I asked those types of questions the response I got was "A lot of it probably stems from age. He is considerably younger than the class and some activities require more time on task." Since I don't own a time machine I don't consider that response real helpful. But that is an entirely different discussion about a more complex issue.
post #14 of 25
Ah, the time-honored "he's skipped a grade, that's where all the problems come from" attitude. I hope she can explain how missing recess will make him grow up faster, because I sure couldn't.

I think the current policy at our schools (not yet applicable) is that whatever time you have lost in class, you have to make up in a written assignment at home- as a "consequence" as opposed to a punishment, of course. Either on the topic he was supposed to be working on, or the topic she was talking about when he wasn't listening, so it could be a mini-essay on why a certain disciplinary policy makes sense.

I'd probably emphasise the argument why it's self-defeating and also unhealthy not to let them have exercise.
post #15 of 25
Teachers taking away recess as a punishment is a pet peeve for my son's teacher. She hates seeing other people do that. I spend a lot of time volunteering in her classroom and here are some of the things I notice.

The school policy for poor behavior (like talking when shouldn't, not following directions, disrupting other student's work):
1st time give verbal warning
2nd time sit on the take a break chair until child feels they are back in control of behavior
3rd time sit on take a break chair in adjoining classroom or visit with the school's behavior specialist (very awesome guy who totally understands excess energy)
4th time meet with behavior specialist
5th time note home

She is also very proactive about behavior, repeats expectation clearly and simply throughout the day. She uses quiet methods to gain attention like when she turns off the lights all the kids put their hands on their heads and look at her or she does clapping patterns. For walking in the hall she has different methods including a reminder when they start out, playing a game where she says she is going to turn around unexpectedly and see if anyone is goofing around and do they think they are up for the challenge, she has set stopping points along the hall route where they regroup and check their own behavior. If a child just can't self-manage in the line, then they walk with her. Also certain kids aren't allowed to walk near each other in line because they make bad choices with that particular student.

The only time you lose recess time in DS's class is if you break a rule during recess, then you sit against the wall outside for 5 minutes (longer if a serious safety issue)

Losing recess because of goofing around in class is not a logical consequence. What does one have to do with another? Now when my DS goofed around during a math lesson, the teacher made him take a break and then he had to complete his math lesson with her later while the other students played a fun math game together. That was a logical consequence! Your son's teacher is taking "the easy way out" in my opinion.
post #16 of 25
OT, but what does your school consider too cold to let the kids go out to recess? Our school have never cancelled school for that reason, only for major rain or snow storms.
post #17 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Heavenly View Post
OT, but what does your school consider too cold to let the kids go out to recess? Our school have never cancelled school for that reason, only for major rain or snow storms.
They consider anything below 0 too cold for recess. Unfortunatelly that's been pretty frequent around here this winter. So pretty much all of January and Febuary. As even days it gets above 0 it doesn't happen until afternoon.

Our kids had two days of school cancelled for -40 temps. But otherwise they go to school in snow and rain.
post #18 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Heavenly View Post
OT, but what does your school consider too cold to let the kids go out to recess? Our school have never cancelled school for that reason, only for major rain or snow storms.
Our school's policy is over 20F for outdoor recess. The teacher seems to keep them in for under 30F. And yesterday they had indoor recess because it was too muddy.
post #19 of 25
I'm a teacher and although I don't have a position now where it makes any sense for me to take away recess, I used to. And I did take away part of recess sometimes for behavior issues, as a last resort. A lot of times teachers feel like their hands are tied. We don't want kids to miss out on physical activity. We know perfectly well how much they need it. We don't like sending incomplete work home because that leads to an attitude that homework is punishment, whether that is the intention or not. And it is not uncommon for the kids that are least focused in class to also struggle with homework, so then you are setting them up to mess up twice. I appreciated straighthaircurly's description of her school policy. What a luxury to have a behavior specialist! I wish my school had a person to send disruptive students to. Our principal is only half-time (we are a tiny school) and during the hours I'm teaching she is usually not available. I've used behavior charts to target specific behaviors for specific kids. I've used individual and whole-class incentives. I've sent kids out into the hall to keep them from disrupting class any further. I've spent huge amounts of my emotional energy developing meaningful relationships with my students so that they feel safe and trusted enough to value class time as much as I do. But there have been times when I've felt, for lots of different reasons, that I had no better option than to take 5 minutes off a kid's recess. I hate it too. I started reading this thread looking for new ideas I might be able to use myself. Unfortunately, in the reality of my classroom (and most others I've seen), there wasn't much that I could really use.
post #20 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thank you everyone for your input and suggestions.

I think I've pretty much concluded that my problem isn't entirely the missed recesses (he missed recess again yesterday) it is more about his teachers general poor classroom management which lacks consistency, adequate positive reinforcement, poor communication with students, and a lack of understanding about who her students are as individuals, etc.

I have address some of my concerns in an email yesterday responding to some issues she let me know about with my son. But for the most part I'm just holding on for the remaining two months of school and planning a discussion with the principle about finding a better classroom fit for next year.

ecoteat - I think it's great that you are looking for other options to skipping recess and I find it very admirable that you mention that getting to know the students as individuals is part of your classroom management tools. I think that is a step my son's teacher has skipped.
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