Schools are working to enhance recess to reduce stress.

Playing at school, it appears, presents more complexity than meets the eye.

Today, numerous children struggle with determining what games to play, how to start and end them, and resolving conflicts over rules and winners. Educators attribute this challenge to the pandemic, which hindered natural play development in young children.

To address this issue, educators, pediatricians, and play advocates are promoting the practice of fostering positive student-led play experiences at schools. They advocate for dedicated time for healthy, inclusive, and safe play, emphasizing the academic, physical, social, and emotional benefits it offers children.

According to the National Association of State Boards of Education, nine states — Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Missouri, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Virginia, and West Virginia — mandate daily recess for students, each with varying policies on duration and covered grade levels.

Commencing in the upcoming school year, California’s public schools are obligated to offer elementary students at least 30 minutes of recess daily, following a 2023 law passage. The law specifies outdoor recess when weather and air quality conditions allow.

The average duration of playtime in schools is reported at 25 minutes daily, based on a 2018 survey of 500 elementary school teachers. The survey was conducted by Wakefield Research on behalf of the International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association and Voice of Play, a nonprofit advocating for play’s benefits.

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