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    The endangered species of today’s schools- RECESS!

    “What did you get for lunch today.??”, said Jack
    “Thank the lord the period is over.”, said Raaisha
    “Aye, chal football khelte hai..”, said Aryan
    Oh, those were days…school and the recess time!
    Does the word recess bring a smile to your face? Does it bring you of some of the fondest
    Memories of your life? Well, I am sure many of you would be nodding your head right now. And that is what we are going to talk of today. Lately, I have seen a trend of doing too many things in school. The demands of the curriculum and expectations of the society mean schools keep adding newer things to their already full plate. And in doing so you know which is the first area that is compromised? RECESS.
    Every time there is a crunch of time or a deadline to meet, recess is cut down. Every time there is an event or an exam coming up, recess is the first one to be sacrificed. I see so many schools and Principals mercilessly cutting down the recess time to almost 15 mins in a day..!
    That may leave the child with some time to eat but definitely nothing else. But recess, however, is to play,  to run to create games and rules to exercise the body and limbs without a schedule. It is the only time to meet your friends from the other class. To let your hair down find new corners of the school. To learn skills of surviving in a group and making up with friends after a tiff. Can we please appreciate the role recess plays in building a strong child?
    Back home the free play time is being squeezed by multiple classes and tuitions and if at school we minimize the recess we rob the children of their childhood. Rujuta Diwekar, the celebrated author on food and nutrition in her latest book- Notes for healthy kids talks about the immense benefits of free play in terms of health and personality. She begs for at least 60 minutes of free play even during board exams. How many of us can promise that to our children? Well, as parents we may not, but as educators and schools, I hope we can.
    In my personal experience, I have seen far more evidence of learning taking place in free play rather than in classrooms. And no, I am not talking socio-emotional learning. I am talking of core academics at primary level. Children are seen making connections to what they have learnt whether it is angles or shapes or grammar or scientific principles. Recess gives them the opportunity to apply. And trust me there is no technology or gadget that can replace that.
    So what are your views on recess and free play as a teacher, student or a parent? Do you support it and if yes, how?

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