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Metro Schools Rethinking Recess Time

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Metro Schools Rethinking Recess Time

CREATED Jul 8, 2014

by Adam Ghassemi

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Most parents know when it's time to just let their kids go outside.

Mother of two, Stephanie Forrester, says her son can't make it through class without it.

"The more recess the better,” she said. "If he doesn't have some kind of release of that energy it seems like he can't concentrate and that's even true at home."

Recess has become the focus of a new audit for Metro Schools.

School Board member Amy Frogge said Tuesday she asked the district to conduct the audit because she believes letting kids get as much as 30 minutes of recess a day is better than just focusing on the outcomes of standardized testing. Frogge says the audit could lead to a district-wide recess policy.

Right now recess across the district is a school-by-school decision.

Tennessee law says kids must have 90 minutes of physical activity a week, but that can be PE, recess or even in class.

"We don't know for how long or what time during the day or how often. All we know is some of our schools don't. So we'll just have to see what our schools are doing and what the results of those activities are and then kind of try to determine some best practices,” said Metro Schools Spokesperson Joe Bass.

Just getting outside to play freely could have a lot more benefits than you think.

"The healthier child is a better learner,” said Sharon Shields. She is an associate dean and professor at Vanderbilt's Peabody College of Education and Human Development who also serves on President Obama's National Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition.

Shields says recess lets kids learn communication, interaction and cooperation skills without realizing there's a lesson.

"It teaches them a value for life. So that they are more productive and that they realize that this increases their productivity. It's not really time away. It's time well invested,” she said.

That means getting regular, unregulated time outside could make kids stronger not only in the classroom, but also when they become adults.

"As much as we can get out and let them run around I think Is very good for them,” Forrester said.

The audit should be released later this year.

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