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Recessed memories

In today's Well, Tara Parker-Pope references a handful of studies that in one way or another, come to the same conclusion: recess is good for kids.

Parker-Pope sites a study published in this month's journal Pediatrics that showed that kids who had at least 15 minutes of recess a day were better behaved than those who didn't. A Harvard study found that the more physical fitness tests kids passed, the better they did on academic tests. And, researchers studying kids with ADHD discovered that a walk in a natural setting improved their concentration as well as, or better than, a dose of their meds.

OK, the studies' results make sense to me: A frolic on the playground facilitates focus in the classroom. But, I think the by-products of that equation - the experiences and memories of recess - are also beneficial.

When I first started kindergarten, I remember being awed by the playground pandemonium. It was a free-for-all. Total anarchy...until the teacher blew her whistle. In an instant, that whistle could transform the schoolyard maelstrom into two perfectly silent lines - one of girls and one of boys. Holy cow! I was only five years old, and I'd stumbled upon the key to success - a whistle. I needed a whistle. I could rule the world-that is to say, my brothers - if I had a whistle. So, I got one and I took it to school. I waited for recess to rev up, then I hid behind the door to the classroom, and I blew it. It worked!! Recess slammed to a stop, the two lines formed, and the teacher stood there, flummoxed.

The bad news: my life experiences were fairly limited at that point, so it didn't occur to me that consequences existed outside the boundaries of family. The good news: experiencing the consequences of the Whistle Caper taught me the importance of employing foresight in all future bright ideas.

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