Recess and physical education times have been reduced in many schools as they push for more instructional time. BRANT SANDERLIN / BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM

8-year old to school board: Every kid should have recess every day

“Every school needs recess every day,” 8-year old Pierce Mower told the Atlanta school board Monday.

Pierce, a second-grader at Parkside Elementary School, said he was tired of only having recess three days a week. And asking his principal for more playtime didn’t get him anywhere.

“I just wanted to talk to the boss of them,” he explained.

Georgia doesn’t require schools to have recess. Today, metro Atlanta school districts report recess times for elementary students between 10 and 20 minutes. That’s less than past years, though it’s hard to say by exactly how much.

Last month, Georgia lawmakers passed a resolution urging schools to increase recess time.

“Presently, students are facing higher academic expectations, along with health risks that are conducive with physical inactivity,” Rep. Demetrius Douglas said. “Research has proven that children learn better when they are provided adequate breaks for physical activity - from improving their focus to developing necessary social, emotional and mental skills that will benefit them in the long run.”

Under current Atlanta Public Schools policy, a 15-minute “unstructured break” is allowed for elementary school students on days when they don’t have gym class. The breaks’ timing is up to the school’s principal and the breaks can be canceled for “disciplinary or academic reasons.”

Pierce’s mother, Marie Mower, said Atlanta Public Schools should consider revising that policy. Kids should get recess every day for at least 20 minutes — though longer would be better, she said.

“Every kid should have recess for a break every day,” Pierce said. “I feel happy when I do have recess.”

“I am always excited when I see students who feel empowered to advocate for the improvement of their schools,” school board chairman Courtney English told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Given the district’s commitment to whole child development, the administration is reviewing the policies around recess to determine if any further action is required.”

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