Recess is an important opportunity for students to get much needed fresh air. This designated play time is an opportunity for children to release energy, which reduces disruptive behavior in the classroom, improves attention spans and helps them learn better. Recess also helps students learn how to think creatively, make friends, share, negotiate and resolve conflicts on their own. 

Recommended recess

It is recommended that schools offer at least 20 minutes of recess per day. But despite this recommendation and all of the benefits of physical activity, up to 40 percent of school districts have reduced or eliminated recess to free up more time for academics. This decision, however, might come at a cost to learning — sitting at a desk all day actually makes it more challenging for kids to focus and learn.

Parents can be the driving force behind ensuring schools provide daily recess and meet the 20-minutes-a-day recommendation. For example, two PTA moms in Florida, now known as the Recess Moms, started advocating at their children’s schools on this issue. Their efforts continued all the way up to the Florida Legislature, which resulted in recess language being included in a House education bill that eventually became law. Thanks to these two parents, all Florida elementary students now receive 20 consecutive minutes of unstructured, free-play recess daily, effective July 2017.

Getting involved

If your child’s school isn’t offering daily recess, here are five ways to advocate:

  1. Attend district and school board meetings and speak about the issue. 

  2. Send emails and letters and make phone calls to decisionmakers. 

  3. Conduct meetings with decision makers and staff.

  4. Use social media to get your message out, garner support and mobilize.

  5. Work with the media to help raise awareness and increase support.

As parents, we are our children’s first and best advocate. It is our duty to raise our voices to ensure our children have daily recess in school, as well as access to other opportunities that enable them to reach their full potential.