Longer Recess Helping Students and Teachers

Arkansas public schools are required by law to have longer recess periods this year, and it seems students and teachers are liking it.

Third-grader Joseph MacDonald loves learning.

"Just to tell you, I do know most of my countries," MacDonald said.

He said recess helps him soak in all his lessons.

"I think that's what recess is for, so it'll run your energy down and when you go to school, you could learn," MacDonald said.

Now, Arkansas students get more of it.

“We’d usually have to spend it in the classroom,” fifth-grader Genesis Martin said.

Elementary students in public school must get 40 minutes of recess because of Act 641.

"It lets you have fun, but when you're in a classroom, I like to learn because you get all the knowledge in your brain, and knowledge and knowledge and knowledge," MacDonald said.

When the heat index is over 95 degrees, the kids don't get to play outside, but that doesn't stop them from getting in their recess time.

"We are fortunate enough to have a gym, so even when weather is not exactly how it should be, we get to go to the gym," Harris Elementary fourth grade teacher Gayle White said.

She feels recess is an important part of the instructional day and that it provides social, emotional, and physical learning that many students don't get at home.

"Part of being in school is being part of society, a part of the community, and when they are able to go out and kind of just have free time with their friends. They learn how to adjust to each other and how to have a good time while following the rules that are expected," White said.

Her fourth-graders have a 20-minute recess after lunch and a 20-minute recess at the end of the day.

She said it gives them something to look forward to during the day, and she's noticed a change in their attention spans.

"They get that little extra free time, they feel good, teacher kind of feels good. We get to observe them and notice how they are interacting with each other, so it really helps us out too," White said.

At PCSSD, younger children have their first recess in the morning. 

Staff members said this has helped with attendance issues because kids don't want to miss it.