Parents fight to save school recess
PROVIDENCE (AP) — When parents tell Dr. Gregory Fox their boisterous child was stuck in a classroom all day, the Rhode Island pediatrician takes out his notepad and writes a doctor’s order to send to school.
“Please do not take away this child’s recess,” Fox writes.
So many kids are being deprived of unstructured play time during the school day that a note from the doctor is one way parents around the country have gone over the heads of principals and teachers who can't find time in the school day for recess.
Parents from Amarillo, Texas, to Montclair, N.J., and Portland, Ore., have petitioned their school districts to extend or mandate how much time kids get to roam free in the schoolyard. When school boards don’t listen, some have gone to their state Capitol buildings looking for help, armed with a growing body of research pointing to the cognitive, social and physical benefits of free play.
“Isn’t this just a natural, common-sensical thing that you have to have some recess for kids for them to be able to perform?” asked Emlyn Addison, a father in Providence, whose firstgrader came home one day recently saying recess got canceled.
“They can’t just sit at a desk all day,” he said.
Lawmakers in Rhode Island, Florida and New Jersey have all debated this year whether to require at least 20 minutes of uninterrupted recess at elementary schools in their states. The New Jersey Legislature passed a bill, only to have it shot down by Republican Gov. Chris Christie.