EDITORIAL: Kids need more recess

Originally published June 7, 2018 in the Fredericksburg Freelance-Star.

GOV. Ralph Northam recently signed a bill passed by the General Assembly that requires the state Department of Education to accept “unstructured recreational time that is intended to develop teamwork, social skills and overall physical fitness”—in other words, recess—when it calculates the required instructional time for elementary school students. The new law goes into effect on July 1.

Local school boards can now set aside up to 15 percent of total instructional time for recess, which comes out to a maximum of about 50 minutes per day. However, they must still provide a minimum of 680 hours of teaching time per academic year in English, mathematics, science, history and social science for K-5 students, and a minimum of 375 hours of instructional time for students in half-day kindergarten.

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PE circuit training

PE Circuit Training Drives Lower Overall BMI at IDEA Schools

IDEA Public Schools Network’s Personalized Learning Program Improves Student Fitness Through Heart Rate Training

Working with the PE teachers throughout the IDEA Public Schools network, PE Curriculum Director Eren Kirksey enacted a plan to use PE circuit training lessons to lower the average Body Mass Index score of IDEA’s 44,000 students.

“Every PE class that you go to now has a [circuit-training] system in place,” Kirksey said. “We’re starting to see that employed categorically. In our highest performing classes, you’re going to see that the teacher has manipulated the environment to enable students to move more freely, which lets them get in their target heart rate zones quicker and stay there longer.” Read More


24 Arkansas schools to expand recess

Boost from 15 to 45-60 minutes will allow unstructured play

Originally published May 28 in the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

By Cynthia Howell

Twenty-four elementary schools in districts as large as Pulaski County Special, Conway and Fort Smith and as small as Fouke in Miller County will participate in an extended-recess pilot program for the 2018-19 school year.

For children in the Pulaski County Special School District’s Daisy Bates and Pine Forest elementaries, participation in the pilot program means free play time will go from the current 15 minutes after lunch to 60 minutes a day for kindergarten through fourth grades and 45 minutes for fifth-graders. Read More

Reading, writing, arithmetic – and running

Integrating movement throughout the school day is key to improving student success

Originally published May 23, 2018 by the University of South Carolina.

By Megan Sexton

Research shows a connection between movement and academic performance, with cognitive, behavioral and test performance all improving when students are physically active.

Yet school leaders don’t always recognize physical activity as a gateway to developing the whole child, and might see it merely as cutting into class time. Even in elementary schools with robust physical education programs, students are in PE class only once or twice a week. Read More


House Creek students get academic, physical boost from varsity football team

Originally published May 20, 2018 in the Killeen Daily Herald.

Special to the Herald

Five stations, five skills to master, and the teachers are Copperas Cove Dawg football players.

Students at House Creek Elementary School improved not only their physical stamina but also worked on their math, science and problem-solving skills with some of the varsity football players who put the youngsters through some football drills. Read More