"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." That proverb was a creepily obsessive phrase in the 1980 movie "The Shining" - and look what happened there! Yet, its very simple and profound observation somehow has gotten lost in our modern scramble to make kids smarter.
Recess - that time-honored tradition that lets kids work off their restless energy and teaches them everything from being part of a team to negotiating conflicts with classmates - has virtually disappeared from many school districts. In some school districts, instituting recess can be a challenge; in Chicago, for example, nearly 100 elementary and middle schools have no playgrounds.
But people who run school districts finally are beginning to realize that it's a huge mistake to eliminate playtime and the creativity of playing made-up games from the school day. The benefits include stimulation of imagination; improved physical health; control of obesity; building friendships; and improvement in classroom attention and learning. Kids who have an hour of play, first thing in the day, learn better. Clearly, social-emotional development should be woven into academics.
So if your child goes to an elementary school that does not have recess or you have school administrators who do not think recess is important, speak up and step up.
If you have no outdoor space for recess, then help school teachers find creative ways to make the gym or a classroom recess-functional. If you have to take the issue up at parent-teacher meetings or the PTA, do it. Your child's health, happiness and success depend on it.
© King Features Syndicate