On the Importance of Recess


At the beginning of every school year, I hear the same complaint from frustrated parents.

Forget about the fact that a brand new school year can be completely overstimulating as kids start fresh, exhausting as they transition from summer, and anxiety producing as they learn the nuances of a new classroom with new expectations.  When kids experience these emotions they tend to react in their own ways.  Some get silly and have trouble settling into the new routine.  This is often interpreted as “disruptive”.  Some cry.  A lot.  Those kids are quickly identified as the “sensitive” kids who need to learn to separate.  Others shut down and become silent – afraid to make waves, these kids count the minutes until pick up.  And some seem to settle in fairly quickly…only to melt down at home.

The common complaint that comes in year after year isn’t about the behavior of the child, though. Yes, behavioral concerns often land tired parents on my couch, it’s true.  But the complaint that generates the most email…is benching kids at recess.  Benching kids has become a go-to intervention in many schools, public and private, and kids lose out on much-needed time to decompress because of it.

Classroom management is no easy task.  While the frustration on the part of the parent makes perfect sense, it’s also important to look at the overall picture.  What, exactly, is the teacher dealing with in the classroom?  What drove the teacher to that level of intervention?  And what alternatives exist?

When I hear from teachers, they often mention feeling alone in a sea of behavioral issues.  Many feel that they don’t get enough support when it comes to classroom management.  I worked in education for many, many years.  I know the importance of supporting teachers with classroom management.

Stop by Huffington Post Education for more on the importance of recess and how teachers can get around benching kids.


About Katie

Katie Hurley is a Child, Adolescent, and Family Psychotherapist and Parenting Expert in Los Angeles, CA. She works in private practice in the South Bay area of Los Angeles, writes for PBS Parents, Washington Post Parents, and the Huffington Post. She is the author of "The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World" (Tarcher/Penguin, 2015) and "No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls" (Penguin Random House, 2018)