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Withholding Recess as Punishment

children on playground

Although it's been decades, the memories of frustration are still fresh. My son missed recess many times by different teachers over his elementary school years. I would finally come to realize that because he was diagnosed with ADHD and other disabilities, he would qualify for this to end by writing the goals in his IEP (Individualized Education Program).

We're familiar with some of the symptoms of ADD/ADHD: focusing issues, poor listening skills, forgetful, fidgety, restless, can't sit still for long, talks too much, often interrupts, impatient and intrusive.

Without special accommodations for the classroom, his/her teacher may resort to withholding recess in order to change the unwanted behavior. Unfortunately, this is counterproductive. The hyperactive child needs recess to release the build-up of physical energy. Many parents are not aware that if the child's behavior starts affecting his/her grades, they have a legal right to request a 504 Plan or an IEP.

"Recess shouldn't have to be "earned" by kids with ADHD and other disabilities. A report by the Centers for Disease Control, which analyzed dozens of studies about how physical activity affects classroom performance, found that recess and physical education contributed positively to the academic and behavioral performance of students." (

There are a number of federal special education and disability laws that support the right to recess for kids with ADHD. Excluding students from recess for behavior relating to ADHD is a form of discrimination. They are being punished for their disability, and this is illegal. Check out https:/ for more insight and ideas on this topic.

There are many accommodations than can be utilized to help keep the child calm and more focused in the classroom: sit on a bounce-chair, the use of a fidget toy, frequent breaks, purposeful jobs after recess like taking a note to the office, erasing the board, passing out papers. When given purposeful jobs, the child's confidence increases and motivates him/her to strive for the next one. Leadership skills are developed, as well as social skills. It's a win-win for the child, the teacher and the classmates.

I hope to see you here again next week at Have a blessed week!

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