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What to do if we don't actually want recess


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I know, I know, I'm supposed to want recess for my child. I even read the article about fighting for recess. Intellectually, I know it's important.

But with the new school year approaching, I am seriously considering looking into getting recess skipped for my child. She will be in the third grade. My state is very pro-recess and has it included in state law. It's also part of, by not only the teacher's union contract and state public employee law, the teacher's duty-free break time. 

The thing is, my daughter hates recess. We've tried a lot. Efforts to have kids include her and teach her games (the kids are great, really, but my daughter isn't interested). A couple of years ago the school had a PlayWorks program. We've had various teachers around the school take her in either during their break or have her visit classrooms, but it's inconsistent and unofficial and many days there's really no place for her to go. She gets bored just sitting in the office. We've given her quiet activities like a book or coloring materials so she doesn't have to actively play, but those are no longer working. She has a few social skills goals that are going well and generally gets along fine with other kids, but she hates recess. She finds it confusing and loud and not much fun. I hate to keep pestering the teachers to find something for her to do because I do recognize it's their official break time (and last year's teacher was pumping during that time anyway) but my daughter is already dreading this year's daily recesses. She says she would just rather have tutoring or another class during that recess time and, honestly, I think the extra tutoring would be a huge benefit.

I know it may be reaching for the stars here, but would this be a reasonable topic to bring up in an IEP meeting? Find someone who can consistently tutor my daughter or even just help her with unfinished classwork every day during recess breaks? Or should we continue to find ways to get her to tolerate recess?

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If it's too noisy for her, that is the angle that I would pursue. Recess is supposed to be downtime, even if the child is active.


But if the noise level aggravates her rather than giving her a recharge, she needs a quiet place to be to increase and recharge her endurance for the second half of the day.

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I agree with Lisa.  If recess dysregulates her due to the noise, etc, that's a great reason for her to do something else.  Does the school have a sensory area?  What about a library?  Would it make sense to give her a job - like helping a teacher make copies or change out a bulletin board - where she gets a little activity.  I wouldn't push her to spend the time learning.  Research shows that breaks make you more productive so finding something that's fun for her might make for the best alt recess activity to put in the IEP as an accommodation.

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If I'm reading this right, it seems OP's daughter doesn't have anyone to consistently watch her during those recess periods no matter what the option is. Depending on how many recess periods there are a day, that's a lot of balancing and juggling of where to send Kid each day, and OP mentioned that recess is the teachers' duty-free breaktime, so it would be unfair and likely illegal to request a teacher on break just handle her. 

I don't know if I'm crazy about using it as extra tutor time, either, unless the student is really fighting for it herself. It sounds like she needs a consistent place and person to take a quiet break with. 

A few ideas that may or may not be feasible:

1. Teacher's helper or office assistant. This will take a lot of pre-planning to be consistent and not just make extra work for all the teachers, but if organized well could be useful and fun.

2. Arrange the staff so there is someone to be with her during recess breaks (without interrupting the duty-free break times) so she can have a consistent supervisor. They could sit in the library with her, plan quiet activities, etc.

3. A modification to what recess looks like at the school, which might help many other students. Perhaps another recess aide could be hired to supervise kids in an official recess-alternate spot (library, quiet area, etc). Yes, might require staff rearrangement and extra hiring, but could be well worth it for a school-wide, long-term change.




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