School board should not cut recess time

I was very encouraged to see Don Wiser’s letter on April 21 regarding the importance of recess in Sunday’s Times-Republican. Community members may be unaware of the proposal to cut Marshalltown elementary school recess. I strongly encourage all parents to attend the May 6 school board meeting where next year’s schedule is to be presented.

As a parent of two Hoglan students, I have found the lack of communication around this change very frustrating. I was told by the school district that this is not considered a “significant” enough change to involve parents or community members in the discussion. Marshalltown kids would be losing up to 30 minutes of scheduled physical activity each day with the proposed changes. How is that not significant?

In studies, recess has been shown to have learning, social and health benefits.

The health benefits of recess seem to be fairly obvious, but people may not know that studies regarding elementary students and physical activity state that kids engage in more vigorous activity during recess than in PE classes.

This may be why both the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education and the National Association for Sport and Physical Education specify that the recommended daily hour of physical activity for this age group should be split into 15-minute blocks of unstructured play.

The social benefits of recess are becoming more important in today’s society. Creativity, collaboration, conflict management, networking and leadership skills are all experimented with on the playground. These are skills that businesses are greatly in need of today and are predicting will be more in demand in the future.

Finally, the factor at the front of educators minds, cognitive development. Physical activity improves attentiveness, attitudes and long-term memory. Breaks are essential to refresh children’s minds and allow them to refocus on the task at hand.

Several schools that removed or reduced recess to add instructional time want it back. For the most part, Iowa has maintained our recess frequency and length when schools in the south and northeast cut it. Now, those regions are rethinking the theory and the school administration wants to make their same mistakes? Marshalltown, this does not make sense!