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Did you know that the average recess time for public elementary school students in the United States is 27 minutes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Department of Education?  Or that the American Heart Association and the National Acadamies’ Institute of Medicine recommend at least 30 minutes of daily recess?

I am a member of the AHES Recess Initiative, a parent-led effort in Atlantic Highlands to increase scheduled Recess time at Atlantic Highlands Elementary School.  And I think any Recess less than 30 minutes per day is unacceptable. (Current school documents show just 14 minutes of scheduled daily Recess time; an e-mail from the school Principal on 2/24/17 states that students receive 20 minutes of Recess per day.)  Recess should be a consistent, scheduled period of time of at least 30 minutes that is not dependent on any outside factors.

AHES is forward-thinking in so many unique ways – including our school garden (the Tiger Patch), STEM/STEAM programs, conservation/green initiatives, Makerspace (a unique creativity area within the school), and two special classes a day (gym, art, music, media center, technology, Spanish), which no other local school offers.  And the school and its teachers and staff have so much to offer to the students in the way of love, attention, learning, and development.  But we feel there has been one crucial oversight in reviewing AHES’ strengths and weaknesses – a lack of sufficient scheduled Recess. 

Recess has been decreasing since the 1980s, mainly due to an increased emphasis on test scores and academic curriculum, and subsequently, by the No Child Left Behind Act in the early 2000s.

Ironically, reducing Recess may be counterproductive to academic achievement, as emerging science now supports the idea that recess plays an important role in the development of the whole child via, what the AHES Recess Initiative is calling, the trifecta of recess benefits – cognitive benefits, social benefits & physical benefits. And that the unstructured, open-setting of Recess is key in providing those benefits. 

To involve the community, discuss the petition and share the trifecta of recess benefits, the AHES Recess Initiative is holding a community presentation on Saturday, March 4th at 11:00am in the Atlantic Highlands Library located at 100 1st Avenue, Atlantic Highlands, NJ, 07716.  Please also consider signing our Petition on the “AHES Recess Initiative” Facebook page at  https://www.facebook.com/groups/1749472412038125/


Erin Dougherty
Atlantic Highlands, NJ 


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