In Florida, there are laws governing how many minutes must be devoted to reading but there is no law requiring recess.


Some elementary schools have eliminated recess altogether. Some make it available only once a week.


The state does require 150 minutes of physical education each week. But that is not the same as recess, where children can play without adult direction.


Folks, we are talking about little children. They need time to stretch and run and play. They need time to exercise their bodies. Why are state officials allowing schools (or, compelling schools) to eliminate activity that is necessary for good health?


Fortunately, parents have begun to organize to demand that their children have recess every day.


Time for recess has been squeezed out in recent years, but now social media is helping parents, such as Lakeland mother Amanda Lipham, organize recess supporters.
Lipham says she organized the push for recess in Polk when she saw changes in her five year old son.


“He was losing his enthusiasm for school,” Lipham says. “His attitude was changing. I could see his spirit being broken.”


First, Lipham handed out flyers in the car line at her son’s elementary school, and she spoke out at a school board meeting. Then, she formed an online petition that garnered thousands of signatures.


Now parents are creating similar online petitions around the state. More than 2200 people have signed a petition to make recess mandatory in Pinellas County, This fall, Parents in Osceola County also started a petition demanding recess. And a similar effort in Orange County last year led to a school board resolution recommending that schools provide the breaks.


And that’s the way change might happen, says Judy Stockman, who teaches at Sykes Elementary school in Lakeland — when parents get involved.


You may be sick of hearing about Finland, but consider this: Elementary school students get a 15-minute recess after every class. They go outside and run around and play. Then they return to their classes refreshed and ready to learn. Sounds good to me.