Less recess may cut out important part of school day

There is growing concern that kids in school are not getting enough recess time, which has been cut back as schools focus on testing. But experts say it is a critical part of the school day.

Some schools are focused on teaching more, preparing for tests or taking tests. Utah PTA health commissioner Jeana Stockdale says research shows recess and physical activity help boost academic performance, and as a substitute teacher, she has some personal experience teaching in schools where recess has been cut back.

"They become less productive, more fidgety, more loud, aggressive," Stockdale said.

She says everybody benefits from breaks.

"They need a chance to get some of that pent-up energy out, and go outside and have a break, then come back in and be ready to start again," Stockdale said.

Stockdale says some principals are concerned about fights or bullying at recess, and don't have the manpower to stand guard. She says that's where parent volunteers can come to the rescue.

Health experts are also concerned about the cutback, as more children are becoming overweight.

Stockdale says studies show if kids do not get exercise at school, they do not compensate at home.

"If they are not getting exercise at home, they need it at school," Stockdale said. "To take that away from them … their health is so important."

Stockdale says if parents are concerned that their school is cutting back on recess, they should talk to the principal about it.

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