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School administrators and teachers see multiple advantages of recess, but one of the most important is the physical benefits students see when they get a little play in their day.
Helmwood Heights Elementary School has a wellness policy that dictates the minimum amount of physical activity students should have in a week, Principal Michelle Hart said. The students have 45 minutes of physical education class once a week, and then 10 minutes a day of some sort of activity that gets them moving, such as walking, stretching or games. The staff is encouraged not to let the students sit for more than 40 minutes without doing some kind of physical activity, according to the policy.
“Our overall philosophy is yes, kids definitely need activity and downtime,” she said.
Hart said it’s something she thinks the students need more of, and school gives them an environment that is safe for them play, when that might not be the case elsewhere.
“They need to get out and run,” she said.
Vicki Thomas, a second-grade teacher at Helmwood, said the kids might not get much activity at home. There are other activities they participate in that don’t get them moving as much.
For Morningside Elementary School, along with recess, the teachers also take their students out for walks, Principal Kelli Bush said, “just to kind of get them out and get them up and moving.”
Bush said she doesn’t think students do enough physical activity or go outside enough on their own time. Second-grade teacher Debbie Lewis takes her students out for a walk every day if possible, regardless of weather. Lewis said she thinks it’s important for students to get an opportunity for exercise, and hopefully it sets a pattern for healthy habits.
Kelly Goodman, a third-grade teacher at G.C. Burkhead Elementary School, takes her students for walks along with the regular recess. Goodman said that according to the G.C. Burkhead P.E. teacher, the earlier the students set patterns for being active, the greater the chance of those patterns staying with them through adulthood.
G. C. Burkhead Principal Bryan Lewis, who formerly taught P.E., said he thinks the extra movement added to the day along with recess is because of research that shows it's important.
“I think there’s more awareness out there,” Lewis said.
Kelly Cantrall can be reached at (270) 505-1747.