“Why do children not have the same rights as prisoners? A report on U.S. schools by the CDC identified only eight states that have policies requiring daily recess. But the “United Nations Standards of Human Rights” endorses that federal prisoners have at least an hour of outdoor exercise every day.
Michael Hynes, E.D., Superintendent of Schools for the Patchogue-Medford School District brings this and many other issues to forefront. He’s on a mission to make changes. Not only does his school district now have 40 minutes of recess daily (without reducing the 40 minute lunch period), he’s dedicated to bringing play back into schools.
He begs “superintendents and principals to focus on the benefits children receive outside of the classroom and on the playground. Indoor/outdoor free play and recess benefits the development of physical, emotional, academic and social skills.”
As parents, we have the power to prompt change within our schools. What are we waiting for? More children to show signs or symptoms of a mental health disorder in a given year? “Up to one in five kids living in the U.S. already does, according to an NPR Education Series broadcast. “Today, by at least some estimates, five to eight times as many high school and college students meet the criteria for diagnosis of major depression and/or anxiety disorder as was true half a century or more ago,” says Hynes.
“With the guidance of Peter Gray and Lenore Skenazy from the Let Grow Project, our school district has successfully instituted a “before school play club” at all seven of our elementary schools. Each Friday morning, students have the gift of mixed age level and self-directed play opportunities for one full hour. Our school district has close to seven hundred elementary students beginning their day “playing” outside. The adults are instructed to intervene only in an emergency. Teachers and principals have found the students who participate in our “Before School Play Club” to be less anxious and more on task when school begins.”