Every elementary schooler’s favorite part of the school day is likely recess. After all, the time that children can get outside and play with their friends may seem more exciting than learning reading, writing and arithmetic.
Recess actually is an essential part of the school day. Your child’s independent education plan (IEP) or 504 plan may not address it, but it is still an important part of their day. So, as a parent of a child with disabilities, what should you know?
Recess is important for development
Recess is more than just a time to allow teachers their legal breaks. It plays an important role in a child’s development as well. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recess is critical to:
- Help social and emotional health
- Promote focus in the classroom
- Improve physical health
Play is essential to a child’s overall health and growth. It is just as important for children with disabilities as well.
Yes, the law does address recess
Both the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 emphasize that:
- Schools cannot exclude students with disabilities from non-academic services or activities
- The inclusion of students with disabilities and students without disabilities is critical in both academic and non-academic settings, which specifically include recess.
It is explicitly stated in federal laws that schools must include children with disabilities both inside and outside of the classroom. This is true regardless of whether your child has a learning disability, physical disability or intellectual disability.
How can schools promote inclusion at recess?
It is important to be aware of the many ways schools can create an inclusive recess, such as:
- Offering structured, inclusive game options for students to participate
- Obtaining accessible play equipment
Understanding and discussing inclusive environments is a key part of ensuring that all children feel welcome and able to participate in both academic and non-academic activities at school.