Recess (Photo by Danny Fulgencio)

Recess (Photo by Danny Fulgencio)

RISD Parents seek the promise of recreation

First it was school lunch nutrition, then screen-time, but the hot topic in education lately seems to be the right to recreation. Parents in the Richardson Independent School District have already taken it to petition, hoping to guarantee a longer recess for their children.

And why shouldn’t they? Numerous studies tout the benefits of recess, from giving restless students a physical break, to its importance in developing social skills. After an uprising from parents, Dallas ISD recently made recess a guarantee for every student — a policy RISD already had in place.

So why are RISD parents petitioning on Change.org? It all comes down to 10 minutes.
A new state law changed the school year from 180 days to 75,600 minutes, giving districts more flexibility in their annual calendars. RISD officials realized by adding 10 minutes to the school day, they could cut the school year to 172 days, giving them more time for staff development. When parents heard the school day was getting longer, several of them wanted a promise that some of those extra minutes go toward recess, so they created the petition.

RISD seems happy to oblige, although it has not decided what exactly the new schedule will entail. “We’re stilling in the planning process, but having these extra 10 minutes will give us some options,” says Dr. Chris Goodson, assistant superintendent for elementary schools.

Currently, fifth- and sixth-graders get 16 minutes of recess, while younger students get 20 minutes. The new schedule will be presented to parents by the end of the school year.

“We’ve gotten an abundance of feedback from parents with 3,000 signatures on the petition,” Goodson added. “We’ve seen a lot of passion from our families who want more recess for their children.”