Editorial: Here’s one break that Dallas schoolkids deserve

NM_01DISDRECESS2_47577841Fifth-graders enjoy recess at Preston Hollow Elementary School in early December.(Tom Fox/DMN photo)

Dallas ISD trustee Dan Micciche is correct: The school day shouldn’t be all work and no play. Particularly not for the youngest students.

Micciche’s proposal to require recess at least once a day for students in prekindergarten through fifth grade wins our support. We hope it will also win the backing of Micciche’s fellow board members and become policy for all elementary campuses.

Don’t confuse recess with physical education classes. State law requires PE, but it’s no substitute for a little freewheeling fun.

It’s not just Micciche’s arguments — or our own fond memories of a break from the classroom — that persuade us. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the nationalCenters for Disease Control are two of many research groups eager to share their documentation supporting how recess improves children’s overall well being and — when the kids return to their seats — enhances learning and focus.

Yet Dallas, not unlike districts nationwide, has allowed academic pressures to trump free time on some campuses. Not only do some schools fail to allot 20 minutes or more of daily recess, which the national pediatrics group recommends, some also withhold it as a punishment for individuals or entire classes.

Micciche isn’t dug in on the 20-minute standard; he recognizes the need for flexibility for different grade levels. But he is right to question whether canceling recess is an appropriate form of discipline for relatively minor infractions.

The administration now will look at the logistics of making daily recess work and come back to trustees in January with a plan. Restructuring schedules and assuring student safety are not small considerations. But it’s important that Superintendent Michael Hinojosa’s team finds ways to make this work — not reasons why it won’t.

The evidence is clear and consistent: Unstructured playtime pays off. It’s worth DISD having a policy in place to assure students get that break.

Via the Dallas Morning News

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