Don't Take Away Recess!
I recently posted an article from The Telegraph about how children have greater energy levels greater than endurance athletes. Immediately parents in my IEP/504 Assistance group on Facebook started complaining that their child has/had lost recess due to having a behavioral issue in school. Often I find out these children have been diagnosed with ADHD and/or Autism. Why, oh why, do schools do this? As a friend said, it is like cutting your nose off to spite your face! In this post, we are going to look at the science behind recess, why schools determine this is an effective form of punishment, and what you can do about it.
The Science of Recess
So what is considered best-educational practices?
There is a lot of information out there on what is considered the “best educational practices” in dealing with a child who has executive functioning (EF) delays as we see in a child with ADHD and/or Autism. When a child is having an issue with behavior is in class the RTI process for positive behavioral interventions and support (PBIS) should be instituted. There are three Tiers to PBIS. Tier I supports focusing on trying to stop behaviors in their tracks by early intervention. Tier 2 focuses on support and is designed to provide intensive or targeted interventions to support students who are not responding to Tier 1 Support efforts. Interventions within Tier 2 are more intensive and is for children engaging in more serious problem behavior and need a little more support. Tier 3 intervention was originally designed to focus on the needs of individuals who exhibited patterns of intense problem behavior that may disrupt the quality of life across multiple domains (school, home, community). Tier 3 prevention involves a process of identifying and providing highly individualized supports for youth with high-level needs. Tier 3 interventions include intensive evidence-based interventions such as function-based behavioral interventions (FBA-BIPs) and person-centered plans such as wraparound. FBA- BIPs are comprised of individualized, assessment-based intervention strategies, including a wide range of options such as: (1) guidance or instruction for the student to use new skills as a replacement for problem behaviors, (2) some rearrangement of the antecedent environment so that problems can be prevented and desirable behaviors can be encouraged, and (3) procedures for monitoring, evaluating, and reassessing of the plan as necessary. In some situations, the plan may also include emergency procedures to ensure safety and rapid de-escalation of severe episodes (this is required when the target behavior is dangerous to the student or others), or major ecological changes, such as changes in school placements, in situations where more substantive environmental changes are needed.
The newest database of information, unveiled by OSEP on October 15, 2018, is the High-Leverage Practices in the IRIS Center. The IRIS Center is supported by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) and located at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College, the IRIS Center develops and disseminates free, engaging online resources about evidence-based instructional and behavioral practices to support the education of all students, particularly struggling learners and those with disabilities. These resources, designed to bridge the research-to-practice gap, are intended for use in college teacher preparation programs, in professional development (PD) activities for practicing professionals, and by independent learners. The array of IRIS resources includes modules, case studies, information briefs, course/PD activities, a high-leverage practices alignment tool, and an online glossary of disability-related terms as well as supporting products to enhance their use in coursework and PD activities.
Conduct functional behavioral assessments to develop individual student behavior support plans.
Establish a consistent, organized, and respectful learning environment.
Provide positive and constructive feedback to guide students’ learning and behavior.
Teach social behaviors.
So what can you do?
If this does not work, then you can call an IEP meeting and ask to have accommodation included where the loss of recess, or physical activity, is not an allowable form of discipline. At the IEP meeting, you will want to use the Prior Written Notice (PWN) Tracker found in the PWN blog post. The school may try to ignore your request but using PWN to your advantage is possible in this situation along with making sure you bring in peer-reviewed research on the connection between executive functioning and physical activity, between physical activity, EF, and ASD, between recess and autism, and between recess and ADHD. There are other resources from Education Week, Time, the CDC, the AAP, and the Colorado Education Initiative webinar. There really is not a single source of information that condones the removal of recess for a child.
Alternative forms of consequences
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