Third Graders in Cobb County Schools Push for Extended Recess

At a recent Cobb County Board of Education meeting, three third graders took the stage. The scene was daunting – they needed a step stool to reach the microphone, and faced a ticking two-minute timer that seemed to rush by.

Berkley Carter, Daphne Murray, and June Simmons, self-proclaimed Recess Rangers, had a clear purpose. They were there to advocate for longer recess periods, stressing its impact on school growth.

“Today we are here to tell you why kids should have longer recess,” they emphasized. “Longer recess will help our and other schools grow.”

The young students presented their research on the benefits of recess, incorporating feedback from peers and teachers at their school. Importantly, they highlighted that longer recess comes at no cost to the school.

The experience was anxiety-inducing for these 8- and 9-year-olds.

“We should have had a little recess break before that,” June recollected in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Recess holds a special place for these kids. Engaging in activities like kickball or tag allows them to release energy or deal with classroom frustrations.

Their advocacy journey commenced as a class project, where they identified longer recess times as a potential factor to enhance school development. Their persuasive speech was first delivered in their classroom.

The benefits of recess are well-documented, aiding students in physical activity, memory retention, attention span, behavioral management, and social-emotional development. The era of No Child Left Behind led to the reduction or elimination of recess to focus on academic performance.

“Before, it was just a time to be goofy and fun, but now I feel like it’s really serious. I have to have recess,” June stated.

Daily recess for elementary students and unstructured break time up to the eighth grade became mandatory in Georgia in 2022. In Cobb County, principals determine elementary recess periods, while middle schoolers receive breaks during class transitions.

The Recess Rangers reported around 15 minutes of recess, occasionally noticing shorter durations on certain days without explanation. National recommendations suggest a minimum of 20 minutes of daily recess.

“It felt like they were lying to your face about recess, and it was unfair to us,” Berkley expressed.

Following their presentation, the students sought to communicate with their principal and potentially other school administrators. Their teacher commended their efforts, resulting in extended recess times.

Their research indicated that 45 minutes would be the optimal recess duration.

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