This week, our Congress will be returning from their August recess -- a yearly tradition that recognizes the human need to take a break from a grueling schedule and spend some time playing.
At the same time, as children across the country return to school, some will find that they have no recess at all. Others will find that their combined recess and lunch period is so short, they have to choose between food and play.
Play is under attack in our nation's schools -- and shrinking recess periods are only part of the problem. Homework is increasing. Cities are building new schools without playgrounds. Safety concerns are prompting bans of tag, soccer, and even running on the schoolyard.
Despite countless studies proving that play is integral to children's learning and health, most kids aren't getting enough space and time to play during the school day. These seven absurd stories from last school year say it all:
- A New York mom sued her child's preschool because the kids there played too much. According to the suit, "The school proved to be not a school at all, but just one big playroom." The mother worried that all this play was ruining her tot's chances of getting into an Ivy League college. Meanwhile, an article in The New Republic reported that children in Finnish elementary schools -- who get an average of 75 minutes of recess a day -- consistently rank higher than U.S. children in International Student Assessment Scores.
These stories are only the beginning. Let's start this year off right! It's time to defend our children's right to play -- in the classroom, on the schoolyard, and after school hours.
If you are a parent or a teacher who is concerned that your school is all work and no play, you are not alone. Join the fight against the rising tides of paranoia, testing frenzy, and blatant disregard for the physical, emotional, and mental health of our children. Get started by signing this Back-to-School Pledge and receive a PDF guide with 15 action ideas you can implement this year.
What ideas do you have for bringing play back to our schools?
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