Editorial: Talks during recess
Today’s kids could benefit from less pressure — less academic pressure, less social pressure. But they still need a talking-to now and then.
Ridgefield’s policy of giving a 20-minute recess to middle schoolers is fairly unusual, but it’s enlightened. Still, it was a sound decision when the Board of Education listened to its middle school administrators and reworked a policy to continue allowing kids in middle school to be pulled out of their outdoor “brain break” time — recess — for disciplinary discussions.
The “physical activity and student discipline” policy being considered was based on a statewide rule that prevents schools from taking elementary school students — kindergarten through fifth grade kids — off the playground for discipline. Ridgefield was considering a rewrite that would have expanded the rule to apply to middle school students, as well.
Both middle school principals, Tim Salem of Scotts Ridge and Patricia Raneri of East Ridge, attended the Sept. 23 school board meeting to argue at length against the change.
As the principals described the practice in Ridgefield middle schools, this isn’t about kids’ free time confiscated as punishment. It’s about administrators being able to pull a student — or sometimes a few students — out of recess and into the office to talk about problems that have come up.
This could mean a serious discussion with a student who flouts school rules. But recess time could also be used to sit down with students and talk about more complex situations.
Raneri referred to the “social drama” that’s part of middle schoolers’ lives. She spoke of “managing emotions” and having “guided conversations.”
Salem spoke of having students “reflect on their actions and take ownership of them.”
Under the original draft of the policy, administrators wouldn’t be able to take kids out of recess for these talks, leaving them two options: Pull the students out of class, or make them stay after school.
The administrators said they preferred being able to talk to the kids right away, without pulling them out of class or keeping them after school — so, they’d like to retain the “flexibility” to sometimes pull kids out of their brain-break recess.
The school board listened, got the message, and adjusted the policy.
Good call. That’s letting the educators educate.