Monkey Bars

Sarah - Asheville, North Carolina
Entered on April 15, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
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I believe in recess. I was the child who, when asked what her favorite subject was, answered, “recess,” and was utterly serious. I developed this belief throughout my time in elementary school and since then have become only more convinced: we need more playtime. It does not necessarily have to be on a playground with monkey bars and a slide, but, as a society, I believe that we need time to be free, time to shrug off worldly pressures, time to be children again.

When I was in elementary school, my class went out for 30 minutes of recess every afternoon. Essentially, we could do with that time whatever we liked. The only restrictions were that we had to stay in the playground area and that, whatever we were playing, we had to “play fair”. We could play on the slides, the monkey bars, or the climbing wall. We could play kickball or soccer or basketball. We could just sit on the field, or–everyone’s favorite–we could peer into the woods surrounding the playground area and speculate about what was down there. My suggestion was always witches.

When I reached middle school, recess was cut back to once a week, Friday mornings for 30 minutes. The school claimed that the physical education class most students took everyday simply took the place of recess. They explained that the P.E. class met the state’s requirements for exercise. They were gravely mistaken. The beauty of recess was that we could do whatever we chose. For 30 or 45 minutes, we were rid of the stress of following structured teacher plans and could follow the paths of our own minds and bodies at play.

Now, as I am nearly finished with high school, recess is more important than ever. There is such an immense amount of pressure on students to take the hardest courses available in order to get into the best colleges possible so we can have successful careers. With the demanding lives toward which we are headed, we will need recess more than ever.

I believe that everyone needs time everyday for recess–a time spent outside doing anything one pleases. My recess is running. It is a time for me to unwind, to detach myself from the stresses of school, and to focus on how fast or how far or how long I run. It is my chance to let my thoughts wander and synthesize the events of the day. The best part is that I always feel better when I’ve finished than when I began. After my “recess,” I am able to return to concentrating on my homework and other obligations. I believe that if everyone spent 30 minutes a day outside doing a relaxing activity of their choice, we would be able to return to work or school more productive, more able to focus on the task at hand. Society as a whole would not only be less stressed, but also it would be happier and healthier.