Prince George’s County Parents Speak up About Recess

The following opinion was presented by LaShayla Clark, one of four Prince George’s County parents who spoke during the public comment portion of the February 25, 2016 Board of Education meeting about the need for longer recess. You may view Ms. Clark’s comments beginning at 1:21:58 in the video below.

Good evening. Thank you for the opportunity to speak about the topic of recess. Two and a half years ago, my husband and I decided to move our family from Georgia to Maryland with the hopes of our children receiving a high quality education. Despite what we heard regarding education in Prince George’s county, we looked for a school that was ranked high and bought a home a little over a year ago. I have three small children, a four year old, a two year old and a 7 month old. My oldest will be starting school this fall.

Recently, my eyes have been opened to a number of issues that reside with our county’s school system. Many of the families that I have met here are planning to home school their children or send them to private school. One of those parents who send her children to private school said, “Our children will be done with school by the time they fix everything.” Nevertheless, I believe that my children can and will receive a great education in Prince George’s County and so I am here to ask you to consider research based policies for our school system.

It was while visiting schools, that I asked an administrator how much time the students have for recess. She told me 15 minutes. I was in shock. She went on to say that Prince George’s County schools require 15 minutes. I have since learned that each school has an option to allow up to 30 minutes of recess a day. However, many schools only provide the minimum. I recently spoke to a principal in Prince George’s County who increased the time of recess at her school. I learned a couple of things in my conversation with her. One is that she wants what is best for all of her students. Two, she wants her school to aim for the Bronze level for the Healthy Schools Program, which encourages at least 20 minutes of recess per day.

Research shows that children need to play. In fact, according to a 2013 policy statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics, “After recess…students are more attentive and better able to perform cognitively.” Several studies show that recess made children more attentive and more productive in the classroom. The length of recess for most schools range from 20 minutes to 60 minutes a day. In other countries, like Japan, elementary age students get a 10-15 minute break every hour. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics,

 . . . minimizing or eliminating recess may be counterproductive to academic achievement, as a growing body of evidence suggests that recess promotes not only physical health and social development but also cognitive performance (“The Crucial Role of Recess in School,” 2013).

Recently, Eagle Mountain Elementary School in Fort Worth, Texas has been in the news, because they give their kindergarten and first-grade students two 15-minute breaks in the morning and two 15-minute breaks in the afternoon and they found that their students are less fidgety and more focused.

I personally would like to see the minimum of recess increased to 30 minutes a day. However, I acknowledge that we must take baby steps and ask that you raise the minimum of recess to 20 minutes a day.

Thank you.

The other three parents who testified about recess spoke consecutively, beginning at 1:01:54 in the video

Click here to find an online petition asking the Board to increase the minimum length of recess from 15 minutes to 20 minutes.

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