Playworks for every kid

Bring Back Recess

Four tips for restoring recess at your school

Unfortunately, many US schools have fewer and shorter recess periods than years past. We know, however, that recess provides a valuable mental and physical break and supports classroom learning. Parents in Texas, Florida, Rhode Island, Illinois and elsewhere are fighting to restore recess and you can too! Get started with these four tips:

  • Be informed. We all know that kids need play, and luckily there's data and experts to back our cause. Study up so that when others ask Why?, you'll be prepared to make a great case. Students who receive even 15 minutes of recess behavior better and are more likely to learn back in the classroom, according to an Albert Einstein College of Medicine study. The National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) recommends that all elementary school children should receive AT LEAST 20 minutes of recess per day, in addition to physical education. And 2/3 of elementary school principals report that students listen better after recess and are more focused in class saving valuable teaching minutes. In some states and school districts, recess is mandatory. A 2011 study indicates that students get more physical activity when there is a state or district-wide mandate. And the American Academy of Pediatrics says recess is as crucial to kids as reading and math.
  • Get other parents involved. One voice is better than none, but chances are there are other parents in your community who are concerned about the lack of recess. Contact the head of your PTA or other parents association. You may want to prepare a presentation or handouts to get other parents involved. Others have been known to create a website or a utilized the powers of social media with a Facebook page.
  • Talk to your administrators. In order to make change, you'll need to talk to your child's school staff. Sit down and have a friendly conversation with your child's teacher to find what him/her think. Set up a meeting with the school principal. Try passing a petition around the school community or posted one online. If you can't change the recess policy at your local school level, you may need to go to a district school board meeting. Just make sure you do your homework first!
  • Alert the media. If recess is the topic in your local news, the issue will be hard for others to ignore. To gain community support, try writing a Letter to the Editor like Meg Rosker did when she found out her son's school did not have  a schedule recess. Don't stop there, contact your local television, print and radio news to alert them of your fight to restore recess at your school.

Need more help? 

Try these great resources:

Why Your Kids Need Recess by Jill Vialet in Forbes

"Seven Things You Can Do to Save Recess" by Rae Pica

International Play Association-USA's The Case for Elementary School Recess

The Five Secret Benefits of Recess

Don't Let Recess Die! Six Ways to Save Recess at Your Child's School by Darell Hammond

Peaceful Playground's Right to Recess Campaign

Let Children Play, Meg Rosker, Florida parent, fights to restore recess