Education Matters: Extended Recess Pilot Program

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CONWAY, Ark. – Learn hard, play hard. Ask most kids and they’ll tell you recess is the best part of the day.

“You can spend more time with your friends and you can meet new people,” says RJ Fuller, 4th Grader.

“We get to like play and get all the wiggles out,” says Hailey Espinoza, 3rd grade student.

Yes, we can all relate.

When you’ve been sitting in one spot for too long, you have to spin it off. But RJ and Hailey says recess gets them ready for lessons of the day.

“When you’re inside you have a great feeling like you’re going to do it. Like you’re gonna do this test, and do everything you want to learn,” explains Espinoza.

Luckily for students at Marguerite Vann Elementary School in Conway, they’re shooting for an additional 30 minutes of play time.

Right now, roughly 25 schools in Arkansas are in a pilot program, by the State Department of Education, that’s testing out longer recess. These kids typically get 30 minutes a day, now it’s bumped up to an hour.

“Now that we have 30 minutes for both of our recesses, we can finish games faster and we get more time to play with people,” says Fuller.

The goal is for students to be more engaged in class and aim for higher test scores.

“We think with more play, we’ll see growth in our academics,” says Jana Hedgecock, Physical Education Teacher.

It’s only been 3 months, but Jana Hedgecock says teachers see a difference.

“The kids are more focused when they come in. They feel that they’re getting more information in to the students,” she says.

Their social and problem solving skills with their classmates are improving.

“I think it’s helping other people communicate and talk to other people and meet new friends,” says Fuller.

This is why children hope extra time on the swings and basketball court become permanent as they slide into the next school year. Extended recess is set to end in May. The State Department of Education will analyze the findings from all schools and make a decision.

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