Seattle parents, do you know how much recess time your children get each day?
In many schools, students return after summer break to learn that recess has been further reduced. Who is most impacted? According to a recent KUOW investigation, schools with the shortest recess times have more low-income students and students of color. KUOW also reported that in the past four years, schools with 20 minutes or less recess time per day have increased from just one school to 11 schools in the Seattle district.
Recess is a valuable and essential learning time for children. Research has proven what we’ve also known for years: Children need recess to develop social skills, hone problem-solving skills, explore their own ideas, recharge their minds after periods of structured activity, and simply exercise.
Furthermore, research has shown that adequate recess time actually improves student behavior and academic goals. Children who have recess are better able to manage their behavior and focus on learning in the classroom.
The need for more recess is getting attention from Seattle parents. An online petition calling for a district-wide policy on recess has brought in more than 1,500 signatures.
It seems silly to have to ask for something so basic to be put in a formal policy, but the recent trends make it necessary to do so. As the debate over school testing and academic measures heats up, schools face pressure to add more and more structure to a young child’s day. Recess often suffers.
It is not just parents who are upset, either. Scrolling through the petition’s comments, you will read dozens of statements from teachers supporting this idea.
Lunch & Recess Matter, a group advocating for both longer lunch and recess time, will join local parents in speaking about the issue at Wednesday’s Seattle school board meeting. Please consider attending the meeting and lending your voice.
Recess matters. Kids matter. Working together, we can improve the school day for our children and help them succeed academically, socially and emotionally.
Dayna Provitt is a mother of two children, Addison and Noah, at Orca K-8 in Columbia City and founder of the Seattle Summer Reading Club, a free reading program to keep kids reading during the summer months. Jana Robbins is a preschool teacher and mother of two children, Luc and Ian, at Leschi Elementary in the Central District.