Louisiana Kids Need More Recess
Since No Child Left Behind was introduced and Common Core standards have increased focus on academic standards and standardized testing, recess and free play time have decreased. Some children in Louisiana have a minimum of 15 minutes of recess over a 7-hour school day.
Recess is also being taken away when children are not behaving in class or behind on work even though the Louisiana Physical Education Standards notes under Standard one that it is not acceptable to withhold students from participation in physical education classes or recess for poor behavior or make up work for absences. Behavior issues in class such as talking, fidgeting, getting out of their seat, and not paying attention are all the result of lack of physical activity and free play and increased academic workload and teacher directed instruction.
We are petitioning the state of Louisiana to require that Louisiana children in grades Pre-Kindergarten through fourth grade to have three 20 minute unstructured play recesses throughout each day beginning after the tardy bell rings, children in grades fifth grade to eighth grade to have two 20 minute recesses and ninth through 12 grade to have one 20 minute recess. These recesses cannot be taken away as a punishment or to catch up on work. Research shows that a recess before lunch increases food consumption and decreases behavior issues at the lunch table. Active indoor recess plans should be in place for rainy days or extremely cold days when students absolutely cannot be outside.
Children’s attention spans begin to decrease after 40-50 minute of intense instructions so recess should be scheduled at regular intervals. Brain Breaks can be given in the classroom if it is not time for one of the scheduled recesses, but children have been intensely learning for 40-50 minutes. This is a few minutes for children to take a break from learning.
Parents and educators in other states are pushing for more recesses as well. Let’s push our superintendents, school boards and state politicians to help Louisiana be in the top and leading states for reinstating more recess time for the children based on research.
According to a Louisiana law 17.17.1 passed in 2004, physical education is required in schools The first part of the statue states:
17.1 Required physical activity in schools
A.(1) Each public school that includes any of the grades kindergarten through eighth grade shall provide at least thirty minutes each school day of quality moderate to vigorous physical activity for students.
Unless children are receiving a daily physical education class or at least 30 minutes of recess, they are not receiving this time.
Below is information to support more recess time for children with links to articles.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, CDC, and countless research articles come out with new guidelines about movement and effects on mental and physical health.
American Academy of Pediatrics
The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that trying to cramming more academic hours is not a good idea and may backfire.
Unstructured playtime indoors and outdoors helps boost cognitive performance and increases memory. It offers a time to rest, play, imagine, think, move and socialize. Recess helps children develop social skills that are otherwise not acquired in the structured classroom.
CDC-Center for Disease Control and Prevention
The CDC recommends children should have 60 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily.
CDC recommends requiring daily recess and daily planned physical education for elementary children
Recess benefits students by
- Increasing their physical activity,
- Improving their memory, attention, and concentration,
- Helping them stay on task in the classroom,
- Improving, their social and emotional development for example learning to share and negotiate.
Finnish Study-Physical Activity and Sedentary time in relation to academic achievement in children
The Finnish study, published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, found that the more time kids in Grade 1 spent sitting and the less time being physical related to poorer reading skills.
National Association for the Education of YoungChildren
NAEYC recommends unstructured physical play as a developmentally appropriate means of reducing stress. The article states that “excellent schools balance sedentary, structured, academic instruction with open-ended experiences in the world of nature, art, the humanities, and creative, productive play. “
Louisiana Department of Education
Louisiana’s own Department of Education standards for Physical Education lists the statistics of that children spend approximately 5-7 hours per day or 35-49 hours weekly sitting in front of screens yet children in the schools are spending more time in front of screens than they do at recess time.
Research Study-The great DebateA Disjuncture between Educational Policy and Scientific Research
Research Study- The Role of Recess in Children’s cognitive performance
Better Eye Health in children
In some Texas and Oklahoma schools, they have implemented the Liink Project. This active research shows that children having 4 15 minute recesses per day distributed throughout the day and character education lessons have increased academic performance and decreased behavior problems. The program is modeled after Finland schools who are in the top in the World. They have found that the children are less fidgety, less distracted and more engaged in learning. California will be modeling this next year.
This is only a small amount of the numerous articles and research backing more recess and unstructured play for children.