September 3, 2014
P.O. Box xxx
Moapa, NV 89025
CCSD School Board and Principal Mary Scialabba
UTE V Perkins Elementary
1255 Patriots Way
Moapa, NV 89025
Dear CCSD School Board and Principal Mary Scialabba,
We want our children to have at least 30 minutes of recess/unstructured free play time daily, not averaged over a week.
We want our children to have 30 minutes for lunch.
We want our children to be able to play tag and run on the black top.
I know schools show they are achieving by academic scores, but academic success does not equal success in life. "The best thing IQ measures is the ability to do well in school," said Alan Kazdin, professor of psychology and director of the Parenting Center and Child Conduct Clinic at Yale University. "At this age, consider it potential. But you have to have the right environment to nurture this." (1) We believe the lack of free play, lack of choices, and sole focus on academics are taking away the “environment to nurture” success later in life.
The majority of our families have one parent that stays at home, works in the school system or works part time so that someone is home for the children. When both parents have to work our children are watched by family or friends. We do not have a daycare. Our community is like a family. We take care of and look out for one another. The majority of us have the ability to homeschool our children, but we see the importance and benefits of socializing. By limiting recess children are not given the opportunity to learn valuable life lessons. In 2012 the concluded that "recess is a necessary break in the day for optimizing a child’s social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development.”(2)
Benefits of Play
Why is free, unstructured play so important? There are lots of reasons, says the AAP:
· Play is important to healthy development of the brain;
· Undirected play helps children learn how to work collaboratively, to share, to negotiate, to resolve conflicts, and learn self-advocacy skills;
· When play is child-driven, children practice decision-making skills, move at their own pace, discover areas of interest on their own, and ultimately engage fully in the passions they wish to pursue;
· When play is controlled by adults - such as in organized sports - children have to follow to adult rules and concerns (like winning) and lose some of the benefits play offers them, particularly in developing creativity, leadership and group skills.
· Play and unscheduled time that allows for peer interactions is an important component of social-emotional learning; (Pediatrics. 2007; 119(1):182-191)
In addition, free time is so important because our children are not allowed to make very many choices at school. They are told what, when, and how to do everything all day long. They need to be given the opportunity to make choices.
We cannot expect children to accept ready-made values and truths all the way through school, and then suddenly make choices in adulthood. Likewise, we cannot expect them to be manipulated with reward and punishment in school, and to have the courage of a Martin Luther King in adulthood. (Constance Kamii, "Toward Autonomy: The Importance of Critical Thinking and Choice Making,"School Psychology Review, vol. 20, 199 1, p. 387)
One is repeatedly struck by the absurd spectacle of adults insisting that children need to become self-disciplined, or lamenting that "kids just don't take responsibility for their own behavior" - while spending their days ordering children around. The truth is that, if we want children to take responsibility for their own behavior, we must first give them responsibility, and plenty of it. The way a child learns how to make decisions is by making decisions, not by following directions. (http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/cfc.htm)
In regards to lunch, our children are telling us not to pack very much food because they are not given enough time to eat their lunches. We want our children to be able to take their time while eating and have time to socialize. There is an obesity epidemic in our society. The school is contributing to this epidemic by forcing students to eat as fast as possible and only giving students 15 minutes for recess.
We live in this community so our children will experience freedom and not live in fear. We see the no running on the black top and not being allowed to play tag as taking away choice and teaching our children to fear life. “the fear can turn into a phobia. Paradoxically, Sandseter writes, “our fear of children being harmed,” mostly in minor ways, “may result in more fearful children and increased levels of psychopathology.””(4) In everything we do there is a chance of being injured. We want our children to experience life and learn from falling down. “In the real world, life is filled with risks—financial, physical, emotional, social—and reasonable risks are essential for children’s healthy development.”(4)
In Conclusion, we believe Mrs. Scialabba and the CCSD do care about our children, but they do not have the same beliefs about what is best for our children. We choose to live in this community so that our children experience freedom, learn to make choices, to take responsibility for their actions, and learn consequences. We believe the lack of free time and abundance of rules and sole focus on academics is creating a generation of children who will not be adept for the work force or the real world. Furthermore, we want to teach them that you can get hurt in life, but to brush yourself off and get up and keep going.
1 Chitale,Radha. “Does High IQ Spell Success?.” ABC News Media Unit, 14 October
4. Rosin, Hanna. “The Overprotected Kid.” The Atlantic, 19 March 2014