These Parents Are Right To Picket, Because Kids Need Recess

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Some parents in Florida are picketing their children’s schools because they say their kids aren’t getting enough recess, and they’re not wrong.

The parents are petitioning the Lake County School Board about the lack of recess in their children’s schools. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the Florida Department of Education requires six hours of instruction per school day, but recess is not counted in that and is not required. In many cases the school principals decide when and for how long recess happens, and while many principals are pro-recess, in many cases schools spend so much time chasing academic requirements that recess falls by the wayside.

“I would like more direction from the School Board to give principals the leeway to have more recess,” Tara Laine Phillips-Hoffman, the mother of twin 10-year-old boys, told Yahoo Parenting. “There’s so much required by the state and county as far as academics that unfortunately, even if they do believe in recess, the individual school leaders don’t feel the liberty to pursue it.”

Her twins get a 15-minute recess period twice a week.

It feels weird to be arguing a pro-recess position, because I hated recess when I was a kid. Hated it. I was unathletic and unpopular, and I would have rather had an extra math class than have to run around for 20 minutes. But I still think kids need recess.

As Yahoo Parenting points out, the American Academy of Pediatrics is very in favor of recess.

“Several studies demonstrated that recess, whether performed indoors or outdoors, made children more attentive and more productive in the classroom,” the AAP says. “Through play at recess, children learn valuable communication skills, including negotiation, cooperation, sharing and problem solving as well as coping skills, such as perseverance and self-control.”

Some of the parents started a petition calling for all kids in the district to get at least 20 minutes of recess a day, every school day. The petition has racked up 900 signatures so far, and it sounds like a good idea. Kids who get recess apparently perform better in class, which means making sure the kids get recess will probably help classroom time be used more efficiently.

Now that I think of it, adults could use recess too. 20 minutes of four square in the park would be fun, and if it makes us more efficient then all the better.

Photo: li jianbing /