Target: Jacinto Ramos, President of the Board of Education in Fort Worth, Texas
Goal: Praise decision to give elementary school children an hour of recess divided into four segments per day, greatly improving students’ learning capacities.
Starting at the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year, students in Eagle Mountain Elementary are guaranteed four 15-minute segments of free play throughout the day. Thanks to activists, including a petition on ForceChange, our students are finally getting regular and necessary access to outdoor free play, which is what their developing minds and motor skills require. Though it may seem counter-intuitive, the frequent unstructured recess periods are contributing to the students’ education.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, recess is “a crucial and necessary component of a child’s development.” During unstructured free play, students develop cognitive, social, emotional and physical skills, along with giving them a chance to reboot between classes. Not only do students benefit from these skill developments, but they also are less likely to fidget and become unfocused during lessons with frequent recess periods. Instead of wedging more academic classes into the schedules of young students in order to aid their educational development, students must be provided with more opportunities to play.
Donna McBride, a first grade teacher at Eagle Mountain Elementary, has stated that initially she was hesitant about giving students so much playtime so frequently throughout the day. However, the long-term results have been positive overall. She claims that her students follow directions, listen more attentively, try to problem solve before coming to the teacher and, most importantly, there are fewer discipline problems in her class.
By signing the petition below you will help thank the President of the Board of Education of Fort Worth, Texas for allowing students four 15-minute recesses in order to assist their cognitive, kinesthetic, and social skills.
Dear President Ramos,
Throughout the past few decades, we have seen a rise in mandatory academic classes, and a rise in bullying, fidgeting, and disciplinary problems in public schools. One of the strongest links between these two areas of concern is via the quantity of unstructured play time we give our students throughout the school day. Essentially, students who receive fewer recess periods are less likely to be successful, focused, problem solvers in school.
The Eagle Mountain Elementary school is one of four in your district changing the cycle. Students are allowed four 15-minute periods of unstructured play, triple that of the national average. As a result, the students of Eagle Mountain Elementary have better attentive listening skills, stronger problem solving skills, and they demonstrate more creativity in their writing and storytelling. Clearly, unstructured playtime is essential for the development of young minds.
I sincerely thank you for giving the students of our public schools more access to free play throughout their school day. Please continue to enforce policies that encourage the cognitive, kinesthetic, and social development of the children in our schools in order to give them the best educational experience possible.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Asian Development Bank