Illustration of kids playing outside for recess

Illustration by Mike Deas; Debate photos courtesy of families

Should Kids Have Recess Every Day?

Next school year, students in California will have more time to play each day. A new law will require public schools in the state to give kids in kindergarten through eighth grade at least 30 minutes of recess on regular school days. California joins other states with similar laws, including Illinois and Washington.

People in favor of daily recess say it’s a good way for kids to reach healthy exercise goals. Health experts recommend that kids get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Also, studies have shown that unstructured free time, like recess, can help kids make new friends. 

“Recess has many benefits,” says Beth Eisen of Playworks, a group that works with schools to design recess programs. “Kids learn skills that they’ll use for the rest of their lives, like teamwork and cooperation.” 

Still, many school officials argue that too much recess eats into valuable learning time. Some schools have cut down on recess, using the extra time for more instruction in subjects like math and reading. Some people also worry that more recess time could lead to increases in bullying and playground injuries. 

Here’s what two of our readers think.

Kids should have recess every day. After sitting in class for long periods of time, it’s good to go outside, run around, and stretch your muscles. My friends and I love playing soccer, foursquare, and other games at recess.

Recess is also important because it gives kids free time to hang out and talk with friends. It’s one of the only times during the school day when kids can take a break and rest their brains. That can help us focus better in class. 

At my school, we have recess every day, but I don’t think it’s necessary. Recess takes place outside on the playground. When the weather is too hot or too cold, playing outdoors isn’t much fun. We get plenty of exercise during physical education (PE) class anyway. 

Plus, in PE class, our teachers make sure that we’re being respectful and that no one is getting bullied. During recess, bullying is more likely to happen, since the time is less structured.

What does your class think?

Should kids have recess every day?

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