Recess: noun re·cess \ˈrē-ˌses, ri-ˈ\ – A short period of time during the school day when children can play.
A study of more than 11,000 eight and nine-year olds led by pediatric researchers showed that kids who had at least 15 minutes of recess a day behaved better in class. A study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that 42 percent of the nation’s school children get most of their total daily exercise at recess. Playing outdoors is a priority for kids in Europe, even if it’s freezing outside. They believe children need to learn to manage risks.
The Senate and Assembly unanimously passed legislation that would require a daily 20-minute recess for all grade K-5 students. Gov. Chris Christie vetoed legislation because it was “a stupid bill.” Since then, a group of Montclair parents created a petition demanding their school board to consider mandating a minimum of 40 minutes of daily recess for K-5 students in addition to the time designated for eating lunch. Currently, kids get 23 minutes for recess. The petition states “It is not reasonable to call indoor recess simply because there is light rain, snow on the ground, or that temperatures have dropped below 35 degrees,” and pleads for indoor recess only below 22 degrees.
… they spend too much time sitting and not enough time learning by doing… ~ Michael Thompson, Ph.D
Outdoor play boosts children’s well-being and classroom performance, yet American children spend on average only seven minutes outside. Not only is it healthy for kids to play outside, what they learn on the playground will become the building blocks of soft skills for later in life, e.g. conversation, cooperation, negotiation, conflict resolution, and respect. About 40 percent of school districts have reduced or eliminated recess, and many keep kids inside when the temperatures are below freezing.
Physical activity actually feeds the brain. Movement increases the capacity (and possibly the number) of blood vessels in it. This accelerates the transport of oxygen, water, and glucose to the brain, and improves its performance.
- Play helps children develop physical skills
- Interacting with others fosters better social skills
- Play can boost intellectual capacity
- Children become more morally conscious when they interact with other children
- Recess has a positive impact on academic achievement
- Students listen better after recess and are more focused in class
- Recess improves children’s well-being overall
- Everyone benefits from a break
- Natural light improves wellness
- Recess reduces stress
… for the average boy, school is not as good a fit as it is for the average girl. More boys have problems with attention and focus than girls. Because of their higher activity level, boys are likely to get into more trouble than girls. And they are not given enough opportunities to move around — both in actual physical activity and in how they learn — because they spend too much time sitting and not enough time learning by doing, making and building things. ~ Michael Thompson, Ph.D., Raising Cain co-author
Sufficient recess could help boys conform to classroom etiquette, making it easier for teachers to educate our children with fewer interruptions. This could possibly result in fewer calls home to parents. Overall, it could be a win-win scenario for everyone if younger students have an adequate recess.
K-5 public school students in Princeton go out everyday for recess, even in drizzling rain and snow with protective clothing as long as temperatures are above 29 – 32 degrees based on the nurse’s temperature chart factoring in wind chill. Here are the rankings based on outdoor play time per day. Princeton Public Schools are in session 8:25 AM – 3PM. Princeton Charter School is in session from 8:00 AM – 3:15 PM since they are given the same bus schedule as Princeton High School, which factors into their recess time.
- Princeton Charter School – Three 15 minutes recess breaks, plus 15 – 30 minutes outdoor play after school while waiting for the bus, pick up, or after-school to begin. The kids also have gym classes outside as often as possible.
- Johnson Park – One 30 minute recess.
- Community Park – One 25 minute recess.
- Littlebrook – One 25 minute recess.
- Riverside – One 20 minute recess.
Recess varies a bit depending on which school your child attends, but Princeton schools get the kids outside for a standard amount of free play. Additionally, some schools get kids out to do gardening, organized play, hiking, plus other outdoor activities. Do you think Princeton kids are getting enough recess?