Recess: A Physical and Emotional Need for Every Child

swing-738429_1920Action update 1/29:

The House version of this bill passed unanimously in the K-12 Education Subcommittee this week. The next step is for the companion bill (SB1002) to be heard in the same Senate Committee. However, we are told the chair of that committee, Senator John Legg, has not placed the bill on the agenda for consideration. Please contact Senator Legg and let him know you want the Recess Bill on the Education Pre-K – 12 Committee Agenda. Email: Legg.John.web@flsenate.gov
Phone: 850.487.5017


Recess is an essential component of the school day for elementary school children. According to research and experts, unstructured, physical play time helps children develop social skills, leads to less discipline problems and even improves learning.

Unfortunately, many schools in Florida have made the difficult decision to reduce or eliminate recess in recent years. The trend accelerated with the introduction of Common Core State Standards (aka Florida State Standards) and other federal and state-led reform efforts that force schools to shift the focus to Standards and test scores and away from the education of the whole child.

It is so sad that our country has now reached such an unfortunate condition that parents have to fight for their young children’s basic human need to be able to exercise their bodies during the school day.

Florida State Law 1003.455(3)  mandates that “Each district school board shall provide 150 minutes of physical education each week for students in kindergarten through grade 5…” The argument Florida parents are hearing is that P.E. is enough physical activity for our youngest children. However, this is not the unstructured play that allows their brain to decompress according this article in a statement made by the American Academy of Pediatrics:

…”Importantly, recess should be used as a complement to physical education classes, not a substitute,” policy statement co-author Dr. Catherine Ramstetter, a health educator at The Christ College of Nursing and Health Sciences in Cincinnati, told CBSNews.com in an email.”

Florida parents are hoping their efforts to restore recess will pay off the same way New Jersey’s efforts have according to this article which states:

“The state Senate on Thursday passed a measure that will ensure students in kindergarten through fifth grade get the break from classwork each day. It previously passed the Assembly and now goes to Gov. Chris Christie’s desk.

“Lawmakers say recess allows younger students time to cultivate social skills and could help combat inactivity that leads to unhealthy lifestyles later in life.” (emphasis added)

Four Florida mothers are on a mission to get recess reinstated, not just for their kids but for all Florida elementary students in the state. They started a public Facebook group calling on Florida residents to join them in their mission. Their goal right now is to get this bill  on the Agenda of the Senate and House floor this legislative session. The Chairperson of each committee must determine whether this bill will be heard.

Florida State Senator John Legg, Chairperson for the Senate Committee on Education Pre-K – 12 had this to say about recess:

“There is a reluctance to mandate more recess because that means you’ll be taking time away from another core class. There will be a constituency out there that will say, ‘we can’t cut down on reading, art, math, music,’ and rightfully so. You have to give up something unless you add more hours to the day, and those hours will cost money.”

Several legislators have decided to sponsor this bill. Senator Legg has the power to allow this bill to be placed on this session’s agenda. He has heard several voices regarding this bill. We are calling on Senator Legg, as well as all Senators and House Representatives, to do the right thing for our children. We are watching and waiting. We hope that we can make a real difference for our kids. We must never undermine the importance of voting. Many of these legislators are up for re-election this year. If current legislators continue to ignore the voice of the people, we must vote for candidates who will.

Here is a statement made by the Florida PTA with their Call to Action:

“Did you know that not all elementary schools allow K-5 students to have recess? Is recess important to you and your children? House Bill 833 and Senate Bill 1002 will require that ALL K-5 elementary students are given 20 minutes of recess daily. We need your help to make sure these bills are heard in committee. Please email or call Senator John Legg, Chair of the Senate Pre-K-12 Education Committee and Representative Janet Adkins, Chair of the K-12 Subcommittee and ask them to support recess by allowing these bills to be heard in their committee. We need to protect the best interests of Florida’s children by supporting their right to 20 minutes per school day to run, play, socialize, and decompress from the rigor and curriculum of the classroom.”

Contact Senator John Legg: Legg.John.web@flsenate.gov 813-909-9199
Contact Rep. Janet Adkins: Janet.adkins@myfloridahouse.gov 904-491-3664

Here is the call to action posted in the Facebook group Recess for all Florida Students  by Angela Browning,

“What can you do to help? We need you to contact your legislators NOW. You can find out the names of your local legislators by utilizing this link. Better yet, contact them all! There is a document uploaded in our group files called “FL Legislators” that lists all state representatives and senators in Florida. Tell them that recess is important to you as a voter, and that it is something your child(ren) need and deserve. Request that they review the research on recess (key pieces are also in our files). Ask them to support our effort by voting YES on HB833/SB1002. Also, please spread the words to others about our effort by adding like-minded family and friends, and by sharing our group in your circles and on your own social media pages.”

One final note, if we do NOTHING, nothing will happen. Please get involved. Our kids need you.

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