Arizona students in kindergarten through 5th grade will get two recess periods each day thanks to a new law signed by Gov. Doug Ducey this session, the Arizona Daily Star reports.
Over the past several years, some lawmakers and education advocates pushed for the additional play time, while others expressed concerns that it would negatively impact learning. Children attending half-day kindergarten programs will also get at least one break, the paper reports.
- The measure does not specify how long the recess periods need to be and also allows the break around lunch to count as a recess.
Arizona is certainly not the only state where educators are trying to balance the demands of the curriculum with the needs of students — especially those in the early grades — to get physical activity and interact with each other on the playground. As schools have been under increasing pressure to raise test scores — sometimes cutting back on recess as a result — parent and advocacy groups have pushed back with research pointing to the benefits of recess. These include opportunities to practice social-emotional skills, lower risk of obesity, and develop the executive functioning skills that develop in the brain through play.
Researchers also note, however, that just because students should get adequate play time during the school day doesn’t mean that teachers or other adults aren’t involved. A Stanford study showed that when adults work with students to establish some common rules, invent games, and give them ways to resolve conflicts, the recess experience is more positive and can contribute to an improved school climate overall. Some schools have implemented programs such as Peaceful Playgrounds to provide more structure and to make sure students have plenty of options so they don’t argue over equipment.