Schools already making play pay???

Tribune article lets District Six off the hook despite what research says is best for kids and learning. Please visit the article on-line at the Greeley Tribune's website if you want to submit a comment. Better yet, also share your dismay with the schoolboard! It will not bring recess back, but at least they will know parents disagree!

One thing that is constantly overlooked is that free time at lunchtime is a lunch break, not recess! Better learning comes about when the brain gets a break during lessons!


Legislature debates exercise for kids District 6 is already making the time for play.
By Jakob Rodgers
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A recent study — along with legislation moving through the Colorado General Assembly — is touting the benefits of recess and physical activity to the learning abilities of elementary school students.

Greeley-Evans School District 6 students, however, are already getting a running start in addressing these issues.

Legislation aiming to get kids moving in school would likely wouldn’t mean far-reaching consequences for District 6 as the district is already within proposed physical activity goals for students, district officials said.

Senate Bill 131, which is sponsored by Sen. Chris Romer, D-Denver, would require elementary schools to set aside 150 minutes a week for physical activity by requiring students to partake in any number of a variety of programs, including recess and physical education classes.

Romer said the bill is an attempt to ensure kids get physical exercise in an educational landscape that, he fears, is putting less emphasis on physical activity in favor of more preparation for standardized tests — meaning less chances for children to avoid unhealthy lifestyles and obesity.

Since the early 1970s, childhood obesity has jumped more than two-fold in children ages 2-5 and 12-19 and more than four-fold in children ages 6-11 years old, according to the 2003-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

“Kids used to come home and play kick ball or run around the block on their bikes,” said Romer in a telephone interview. “Kids don’t do that anymore, which is why we need to have the requirement for physical activity.”

While other districts may be forced to change their policy, every elementary school in District 6 already meets this requirement, according to Roger Fiedler, spokesman for the district.

Currently, students are allotted 20 minutes a day for recess — usually given right after lunch — and also participate in at least one, 50-minute session of physical activity a week. The district-wide recess schedule has been in place since the 2006-2007 school year, thus ruling out the old system that allowed each school to set its own bell schedule.

Fiedler said, though, that these rates can vary across the district as some schools offer more than one physical education class a week depending on the number of students at the school. Less crowded schools typically offer more physical education classes simply because more time slots with the physical education teacher are available.

But while many are touting the health benefits of physical activity, a recent study indicates recess might prove beneficial in more ways than one.

Published in the journal Pediatrics, the study found that children ages 8 and 9 who were exposed to at least 15 minutes of recess a day behave far better in class than those receiving less recess.

Hypothesizing that such behavior would ensue, Romina Barros who co-authored the study, said the premise for the study stems from a visit she made to a school in New York that did not offer recess. What resulted from the lack of free time, she said, was simply unruly behavior.

“That really stuck me because,” said Barros, of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, in a telephone interview. “These kids were all over the place,”

While the study found a marked difference in the attitude and behavior of children who received less than 15 minutes of recess a day, it failed to find any difference in childrens’ behavior when allowed different lengths of recess that exceeded 15 minutes.

Cher Russell of Evans, though, remains skeptical.

Often, she said, her fourth-grade son has trouble staying focused during the two hours of daily literacy training that is required of each child. Even dividing the literacy program into two, one-hour blocks would garner great benefits, she said.

“For my son, he needs that release, to be honest with you,” said Russell, who lamented she is considering home-schooling her child due, in part, to the lack of breaks her child receives during the school day. “He’s a high energy student and he needs that downtime.”

In the end, though, that might come down to the teachers’ discretion. Though no recesses are planned for the literacy block, Fiedler said the district already allows teachers the flexibility to let their students stand up and move around the classroom if they feel the students need a break.

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