Florida parents are up in arms over school boards not enforcing play time at recess each and every day.
Last week, parents in Lake County took to the streets, holding signs that read “Recess, don’t ‘Let it go!’” outside elementary schools in hopes of convincing the district to require 30 minutes of recess time for all elementary students.
Leesburg, Florida dad Scott Larson tells Yahoo Parenting his fourth-grade son, “has never had recess before” and gripes that school leadership believes one thing only: “More classroom time equals better academic performance.”
The state Department of Education does not require recess for Florida students. However, school boards can set district policy on the subject, and principals make the final ruling on the matter for the majority of the state.
Parents throughout the state are upset that their children are not receiving this additional 30 minutes of unorganized physical activity in addition to their physical education class time. Many are beginning letter-writing campaigns and online petitions.
“I would like more direction from the school board to give principals the leeway to have more recess,” Tara Laine Phillips-Hoffman, a Claremont, Florida mom, of twin 10-year-old boys, tells 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.” Hoffman’s fifth-grade boys get recess only once or twice a week for about 15 minutes.
One online petition started by two Orlando mothers, asking for just 20 minutes of recess each day, has gained 921 signatures so far. Another was started by a father in mid-July, gaining over 600 signatures by August. According to the father, there are multiple benefits to that recess time for students, and the American Academy of Pediatrics agrees. “Recess represents an essential, planned respite from rigorous cognitive tasks,” reads its January 2013 policy statement in the journal Pediatrics. “It affords a time to rest, play, imagine, think, move and socialize.”
Studies have proven the benefits of recess time, including helping children to learn. That recess time “makes kids more attentive and more productive in the classroom,” according to the statements by the AAP. An additional study performed in 2009 found children who received at least 15 minutes of recess time performed better on classwork than those who did not.
“Recess is unique from, and a complement to, physical education — not a substitute for it,”rules the AAP. In short, the organization declares, “Recess is a crucial and necessary component of a child’s development.”