Instead of No Recess, What About Alternative Recess?

Today I was outside with the students during recess. I thought about how much they need this time. Not only does it allow them to expend energy, it boosts memory and enhances their ability to learn throughout the day.

Unfortunately, recess is one of those carrots that we sometimes hold over kids when they will not comply with our demands. Does this help, or possibly even hurt the learning process?



One option is to take the kids out at an alternate time during the day. This way, they get their kinesthetic needs met, yet they are held accountable because they missed that social time with their friends. They make up their learning time when it is more convenient for the teacher. Now, I could see this being a problem, such as not having supervision, or missing out on other academic times. Hopefully, this wouldn’t have to be used very often.

What are your thoughts? Is alternative recess a better choice than none at all? What works for you to help keep kids accountable for their learning? Please share in the comments.


Author: Matt Renwick

Matt Renwick is an 18-year public educator who began as a 5th and 6th-grade teacher in Rudolph, WI. He now serves as an elementary principal for the Mineral Point Unified School District ( Matt also teaches online graduate courses in curriculum design and instructional leadership for the University of Wisconsin-Superior. He tweets @ReadByExample and writes for ASCD ( and Lead Literacy (

One thought on “Instead of No Recess, What About Alternative Recess?”

  1. Often times I will see students trying to “escape” from an activity because it is something that is difficult for them. For example, if my students are jump roping they will ask to go to the bathroom. I honor their request. When they return they are held accountable for the jump rope activity. Student could be sabotaging their recess for the same reason. They may not like it be it because they have problems making friends or it’s too cold. Just my thoughts. Jamie Graper. Phys Ed Teacher


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