The great Carmel, Indiana recess debate

//The great Carmel, Indiana recess debate

The great Carmel, Indiana recess debate

Call it the great Carmel Indiana recess debate. Or call it the ‘who needs recess anyhow?’ debate.

After all: What comes to mind when you think back on elementary school? I used to scoff at my parents when they struggled to remember a teacher’s name. How could you ever forget such critical information? {Fast forward: Parents do, and I have.}

But I still have vivid memories from that time in my life, and almost all of them revolve around recess. The friendship bracelets. The playground politics. The joy of running across the field with the boundless energy of a seven-year-old.

Carmel Indiana recess - theCityMoms

Recess is where it all happens in grade school.

It’s where social bonds are formed and broken. Where athletic prowess or lack thereof is proven. It’s where imaginations are free to roam. And recess is typically the only unstructured part of the entire day for school-aged children.

When news broke that Carmel – an affluent and well-respected school district in suburban Indianapolis – only offers elementary students 15 minutes of daily recess, our CityMoms started talking.

Our private Facebook group had just buzzed about this article regarding the positive impact of four daily recess breaks for one Texan elementary school. 

It caused us to do an informal poll. The results: 28 CityMoms said they think kids need 30 minutes or more of recess a day. In contrast, only nine responded that they actually receive that much time. The majority of respondents said their kiddos currently receive only 15 to 30 minutes a day.

Then the Indianapolis Star published an article citing the district in question also has the shortest recess time of the four largest districts in Hamilton County.

Our CityMoms had even more to say:

  • “My children get 30 minute of recess, and I still don’t think it’s enough! Children are not wired to sit still like adults, and requiring them to do so for such long periods is a recipe for behavior issues.” – Sharece
  • “Kids aren’t supposed to sit still for long periods of time.” – Monica
  • “Kiddos NEED more recess…the vestibular and proprioceptive input they get during recess actually aids them in being able to complete mental tasks.”  – Rebekah {Note: Our mommas are smart cookies! Here’s the translation: Vestibular relates to balance and eye movement. Proprioceptive is sensory processing.}
  • “I’m from Finland where kids never sit in class from more than 45 minutes at a time… kids learn so much better when they get to reset their brain.” – Anna

Many members were already thinking outside the box however stating “recess” as we know it isn’t the only option for kids:

  • “In my son’s kindergarten class, they get “brain breaks” in addition to research where they get up and move around. While I support more recess time, I am also for integration of movement throughout the day.” – Morgan
  • “I’m not sure they really need more ‘recess’, as in playing outside with no instruction. That’s great too but I would rather see more more movement, more self-directed and creative-type play throughout the day.” – Amanda

The research on the topic seems to be overwhelmingly in support of more recess and/or physical activity. Both the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics found that physical movement and socialization during unstructured time allow students to perform better academically.


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Public support has also been pretty one-sided.

For instance, a Facebook group called the Carmel Recess Initiative has launched with local parents and concerned citizens advocating for more recess and movement in the school day.

So why does recess always seem to be on the chopping block? Perhaps it’s the pressure at an early age to be academically rigorous? Maybe it stems from a growing awareness of bullying and the potential for such behavior during unstructured time?

Carmel School District administrators recently noted they are listening to the community and have launched a committee of parents, staff and administrators to review elementary programming.

Is it enough? Worth the conversation? Our CityMoms certainly feel passionately about the issue, and it seems the greater Indianapolis community does too. But we respect that every family is different – so let us know your thoughts in the comments.

MORE INFO: If you’re a Carmel School District parent looking for more support on this issue, we recommend joining the Carmel Recess Initiative FB group. It’s a great way to connect with like-minded parents and stay in tune with administrative conversations. 

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Megan Bohrer headshot _ theCityMomsA recent transplant to the Midwest, Megan Bohrer still gets excited by the first snow flurries of the season. Although her husband’s job as a private school administrator brought them to the area, Megan feels more at home in Indy every day.

While she isn’t chasing after her two children or working her day job as a social worker, Megan enjoys drinking craft beer, photography, playing soccer, and fantasizing about all of the Pinterest projects she will one day complete.

By | 2017-09-05T12:14:03+00:00 September 4th, 2017|Parenting|4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Adelina September 5, 2017 at 11:46 am - Reply

    Thank you for posting about this important topic! I think if Carmel wants to stay a prestigious district they really need to take a better look at recess. I love the brain breaks throughout the day, but the problem with that is it’s still structured. Kids need time to rest their brains and be creative on their own. They need to learn how to make friends outside of a classroom. They need FRESH AIR away from the germs in a classroom.
    while I admire that Carmel is trying new things and putting the power into the teachers hands, I still think there needs to be more guidelines in requiring recess time

  2. Christina September 6, 2017 at 1:02 am - Reply

    I’m a parent of a KG and 5th grader in Carmel schools and I am in favor of 30 min of recess. However, I want to add that my kids aren’t coming home mentally exhausted as one might think with only 15min of brain breaks and they also come home with very little if any homework. This tells me 2 things, they are taking brain breaks (which I know for sure) and they are completing work efficiently at school which means they get more rest time at home after school while others are doing homework. These are just my observations that I wanted to share!

  3. Karla September 6, 2017 at 12:36 pm - Reply

    I have 2 children in Carmel schools (5th, 2nd), and it is definitely been a struggle for my younger one to have that much structured time during the day. We moved here from out of state 4 years ago (after living in 5 different cities in 5 years), and I may have chosen a neighboring district, had I known at the time how little recess was afforded to the students of Carmel.

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