Do Pinellas schools need more recess?
Pinellas parent Meg Rosker is on a tear. Last week she was in this New York Times story about a movement to put more playtime back into elementary schools. Then she was featured in this Bay News 9 story that generated a ton of comments. Then she launched this petition drive to get the Pinellas school district to offer more recess.
The district responded to Bay News 9 with an e-mail that said:
"Our district does not have a recess policy, however, through grants and other health initiatives, we continually promote physical activity during the school day. Our kindergarten classrooms have two physical activity breaks incorporated into their daily schedules. Also, schools can decide to offer a supervised recess-type of free time during the lunch period. Our teachers have access to a website that offers physical activity ideas for students on the elementary and middle school level. Please keep in mind that the state requires all elementary schools to provide a minimum of 150 minutes of physical education each week."
Rosker's efforts, which include this letter to the St. Petersburg Times that was published in October, are generating a bit of a buzz. Other parents are beginning to write the district.
Here is an excerpt from a letter that Brooker Creek Elementary parent Aunna Elm sent last week:
"I am the mother of an enthusiastic and energetic little boy attending Kindergarten at Brooker Creek Elementary. While our experience at the school has been overwhelmingly positive, I am writing to express the shock and dismay I felt upon learning that Pinellas County Schools has no policy in support of the provision of recess. Indeed, it recommends recess only in the Kindergarten year and this is delivered at individual teacher's discretion. While I appreciate that the State of Florida requires that PE be provided, this adult directed activity is not comparable to the demonstrated benefits that child-initiated free-play at recess provides."