Would mandatory recess mean a longer school day?

Posted at 6:41 PM, Dec 04, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-04 18:41:22-05

Reading, writing, arithmetic, and recess? A new bill would make recess mandatory at Florida's public elementary schools.

A spokesperson from the Palm Beach County schools says currently each school in the district can choose how much time to set aside for recess.

Parents like the idea of making recess a requirement, but are there enough hours in the school day?

For a lot of kids it's the highlight of their day. A break from the desks and pencils of the classroom, recess lets them stretch their legs and brains.

"Sometimes they get to have independent play, where they make up their own stuff and use their imaginations, which I think is great," parent Heather McMechan says.

Her daughter is a second grade student. She says her kid's school has recess nearly every day.

"I can tell when my daughter hasn't had a day of recess. She has a lot of pent-up energy, kids need that outlet," she points out.

Florida lawmakers will consider a bill sparked by a group of central Florida mothers. It would make recess mandatory for at least 20 uninterrupted minutes each day for elementary students (and sixth graders in school with elementary grades). Teachers wouldn't be able to keep a kid out of recess as a punishment.

"We joke and call it the wiggles, we gotta get the wiggles out, they gotta move their bodies," Superintendent Robert Avossa says.

He supports recess, but says there may not be enough hours in the day to make it mandatory, explaining the school day is longer in Georgia, where he last worked.

"The amount of hours our kids are at school is very short and we pack in a ton of things they have to do, so we gotta be thinking, as a state and a community, should we extend the school day some," Avossa says.

McMechan, who runs a blog called Local Mom Scoop, is open to extending the school day. Her daughter spends six hours a day at school. But she would want to have a say in what goes into that extra time.

There are bills in the state House and Senate. They will work through through the legislative process next year.