Our district’s Wellness Policy, enacted by our elected Board of Education, provides:
Staff will not use physical activity (e.g., running laps, pushups) or withhold opportunities for physical activity (e.g., recess, physical education) as punishment. Withholding recess will not be considered unless in extreme circumstances where all other methods have been exhausted or for continued unacceptable behavior exhibited during recess.(Emphasis mine.)
From what I hear, recess is frequently – even routinely – withheld for misbehavior at our elementary school, at least in some classrooms. Apparently, the most common reason is to make the kids do uncompleted homework or in-class work. The teachers might not call it “punishment,” but it’s hard to see how failing to finish one’s work could qualify as the kind of “extreme circumstance” required by the Wellness Policy before recess can be withheld. Recess is also withheld for other forms of misbehavior in class.
It makes no sense to punish kids who can’t sit still by depriving them of their chance to run around. If our district wants to decrease the number of behavior problems, it should give the kids more recess, not less. (See this article, for example. And compare Finland’s practice – fifteen minutes of recess for every forty-five minutes of class – here.)
Readers, what has your experience been? Is our district’s Wellness Policy nothing but lip service?