Unstructured play time, or recess, is crucial to the growth and development of children, not to mention the fact that it improves focus and retention of knowledge. According to the International Play Association, 40% of schools within the United States are not currently providing children with recess. Are you aware of how much physical activity time is being provided to your children during the school day?
School recess time has been getting cut back since the implementation of the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act, which aims to improve school test scores in the areas of reading, writing, and math. Because funding in schools is also being cut back, more class time is being focused on these subject matters. As a result, time spent on other subjects (including recess) is being reduced or even eliminated.
An often-overlooked fact is that recess has a direct, positive impact on academic performance in school.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “The academic success of America’s youth is strongly linked with their health.”
Physical activity helps increase blood flow to the brain, leading to improved attention in addition to improved information processing, storage and retrieval.
At the present time in Florida, there are no standards that require recess in public schools.
However, 2010 brought a Florida Statute stating “Each district school board shall provide 150 minutes of physical education each week for students in kindergarten through grade 5.”
The mandate for grades 6 through 8 requires one class period per day for one semester be devoted to physical education.
This statute has been adopted as a local school wellness policy in Orange County. While the mandate does not require an unstructured play time during school, it does offer children time to get physically active during their school day – time away from academics to recharge.
All in all, it looks as though central Florida is heading in the right direction when it comes to making sure your children are working toward the CDC recommendations for physical activity.
To find out more, contact your child’s school to see how much physical activity time (structured or unstructured) is being provided. Comment your findings below to see how your child's school compares to other local schools.