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Lawmakers could mandate recess for kids in school

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  • Staff Report 

State Senator James Skoufis has introduced a proposal in New York that would require elementary school students to receive a minimum of 30 minutes of daily recess. In addition, the proposed legislation would prohibit schools from denying recess time as a disciplinary measure.

Senator Skoufis highlighted the importance of unstructured playtime for children’s health and academic success, citing a World Health Organization study that found 81% of elementary school-aged children do not engage in sufficient physical activity. Presently, only 10 states in the US mandate regular recess periods.

Skoufis emphasized that all students, regardless of their school’s location or resources, should have access to regular outdoor playtime. He noted that recess contributes to discovery, enhanced social skills, and physical and mental health benefits, as well as improvements in academic performance. He stressed the crucial role of unstructured play in early childhood development and the need to support New York’s youngest citizens.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted education nationwide, with remote learning posing challenges for some students and leading to calls for initiatives to address learning loss. As in-person instruction resumes, school officials have observed an increase in disciplinary issues.

The state of New York has been working on other initiatives to enhance childhood development, such as expanding universal pre-Kindergarten beyond New York City. The proposed recess legislation is another step towards supporting the well-being and development of young students in the state.