Recess Isn’t Enough: Active Play Should Be All Day

21 August 2011 Categories: public school, unschooling

Laurie's 17 year old unschooling son active at play

A post on Care2 states that the demise of school recess hurts student learning. It advocates that children should have “even 15 minutes” to “run around”. I believe that this article misses a major point- A few-minute gesture of respite or “recess” from hours of mindless busywork is not “recess” at all. The value of outdoor play is in realizing that children’s natural state of being is play and movement. Reversing the ratio of active playing vs. sitting down would be a wonderful start for schools: Freedom to play and move should consume the child’s day and “15 minutes” to sit in discussion (if children so choose) would be more in line with a child’s natural development.

Schools do not understand the fundamental basics of children’s needs or how children’s brains learn, nor do they seem to show compassion, empathy or caring about children’s needs or what is developmentally appropriate.  Children of all ages, teens included, learn BY playing- Play is the necessary means by which their brains process, understand, assimilate, store, recall and activate information. Anything they are forced to “learn” that is not through their own will is nothing more than conditioning. Conditioning is an aggressive way of forcing a child to consume, absorb or swallow information or mold to a pattern that is not relevant to their needs. The mass epidemic of labeling children with “learning disabilities” and chemically controlling them with psychiatric drugs is testimony to the failure of schools to understand the most elementary ABC’s of how developing brains learn.

Children’ are being harmed holistically, especially physically, emotionally, cognitively and socially in school due to being starved of play and physical activity in school and also due to the abusive practices in schools of delaying and denying toilet use, hydration, food and movement, especially in the middle and high school grades. Obviously, no youth can “learn” anything under those conditions of distress; their bodies literally go into fight-or-flight or shut down mode. Schools are dangerous places for children and are developmentally inappropriate at all grade levels. Lack of play, lack of physical activity, denial of bodily needs and the lack of compassion by teachers and school officials for these needs are the top reasons why my teen son unschools. Save your child’s childhood, protect your child’s body, mind and spirit and take your child back from this abusive institution- Unschool!

As a coach and consultant, I can help you get started and support you through your journey to rescue your child from public school. I can help you find alternatives such as unschooling or democratic schools, even if you are a single parent. Learn more about my coaching/consultation services here! You can also visit my YouTube channel, LaurieACouture, to view my six videos on the steps of unschooling.

4 Responses to “Recess Isn’t Enough: Active Play Should Be All Day”

  1. Kelly 21 August 2011 at 8:42 pm (PERMALINK)

    I love this piece. It is really quite frightening to grownups to hear “children learn through play” – and thrive through this experience, as well. Yes, many people don’t want to hear it – even though science and the many experiences of grown and growing unschoolers continue to support the facts. These resistant adults respond with thier own “conditioning”, often at base along the lines of, “I had to go through it [school] so they should too!”

    I am so grateful to be exposed to theories of unschooling, autodidactic experiences, etc. etc. My children are doing so well and our family has benefitted in more ways than I could compile in a short list!

    Thanks for writing a strong post.

    • Laurie A. Couture 21 August 2011 at 9:52 pm (PERMALINK)


      Thank you for your support- I am so happy to hear of thriving unschooling families! Yes, I agree with you- Far too many people seem to want their children to suffer school because they did, and so-called “professionals” continue to deny the science and the success of unschoolers and relaxed homeschoolers everywhere…


  2. Mariann 24 August 2011 at 11:58 am (PERMALINK)

    This is an awesome article. We, as a family, unschool our 10 year old triplets. We also have two older children that went through the public school system. The amount of problem solving, activeness, curiosity and willingness to learn, that we have seen in our triplets, is astounding. It’s self-teaching, really. Our job is not as difficult as we expected it to be! It’s been pure joy and outrageous fun. Our girls are outside doing, seeing, feeling, living and thriving every day. One question, leads to more and more. The common sense, and the ability to reason and plan, to work through and around, is refreshing for us to see. Our girls are happy, healthy and in our opinion, geniuses!!! :o) Loved this article, and it reaffirmed why we made our choices. Thank you!

  3. Homeschooling Works 15 September 2011 at 2:24 am (PERMALINK)

    In our modern culture it is considered normal to sit most of the day, and the schools really foster that. Contrary to popular belief sitting most of the day with only scheduled exercise that may not even be daily is not normal! Many schools have already limited or removed PE all together. My niece only has 2 days of PE a week at a private school. When I was in school we had it daily, yet I hated being told what I needed to do for exercise and was constantly made to play sports instead of walking the track which I really wanted to do. Long story short I got failing grades in PE for not participating in the required sports. I still hate competitive sports but love exercise!


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