In a bid to prevent bullying, foster social skills, and fight obesity, schools across the country are reining in recess. At one Newark school, that meant hiring a "recess coach" to lead games and watch out for wallflowers. "Coach Brandi does miracles with 20 cones and three handballs,” says the principal. The new approach has cut disciplinary problems and injuries, she adds.
Hundreds of schools are taking the same approach, many with the help of a California-based nonprofit called Playworks. But as more schools sign on, there's a backlash brewing on the blacktop. "It’s just not natural,” one parent tells the New York Times. “I just can’t imagine going through the entire day without a break.” At least one expert agrees: kids must “be free to do what they choose to do” and benefit from using their imaginations, says the author of an influential study on recess.