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A Dallas School Trustee Wants To Make Recess Mandatory In DISD Elementary Schools

Aleph Studio

There was a time when recess was part of every kid’s day. Today, not so much. A Dallas school board trustee wants to change that.

On Thursday, the Dallas school board will discuss making recess mandatory in every one of the district’s elementary schools.

Trustee Dan Micciche says he’s gotten a ton of complaints from parents. They want their kids to have time to be, well, kids. That includes running around on the playground.

“The comments that I hear from parents are consistent with what the research indicates – that recess is good for kids in terms of academic development, behavior and social and emotional development,” Micciche says.

Micciche did the research and says he’s convinced that regular recess is good for kids. 

Micciche has proposed that the Dallas school board consider a policy making recess available to all elementary students from pre-k through fifth grade.

Not all Dallas schools offer daily recess, but a district spokesman wasn’t able to provide specific campus data.

Micciche has been told that sometimes students in the district don’t go to recess as punishment.

He thinks that’s a bad idea.

“I don’t think it should be taken away for minor offenses and it’s probably not a good idea to take it away at all,” Micciche says. “Sometimes if you take away recess because of bad behavior in the classroom, it only makes the behavior worse rather than providing an outlet.”

Cathy Ramstetter runs a nonprofit in Ohio called Successful Healthy Children. She consults with schools to create healthy learning environments and co-authored the American Academy of Pediatrics' Policy on Recess.

She says research shows that recess is important.

"It’s where they learn to practice those skills of conflict resolution, to practice making up rules, to practice rule following, to practice interpersonal relationships and communication with one another,” Ramstetter says. “So from a holistic, social emotional development of the child, recess proved to be beneficial.”

Ramstetter says there’s another benefit -- children coming back from recess are more focused and ready to learn.

Trustees will discuss the issue Thursday during their board briefing – but a vote won’t happen until January at the earliest.

Stella M. Chávez is KERA’s immigration/demographics reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35.