Great news! Recess is returning to schools in Chicago!
Beginning in November, the city’s Department of Public Health will require children who attend preschool or day care centers in Chicago to spend less time in front of television or computer screens — 60 minutes or less — and more time — at least an hour a day — participating in physical activity. At snack or meal time, milk cannot have a fat content higher than 1 percent, unless a child has written consent from a doctor. Only 100 percent juice can be served.
Preschoolers Need Healthy Lifestyles
From The New York Times:
Tracy Moran, a researcher at the Erikson Institute, a graduate school focused on early childhood development and education, said the requirements were important for young children to develop healthy lifestyles to prevent conditions like high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes and hypertension.
The lack of recess could “certainly stunt any progress made early on,” Ms. Moran said.
40% Of Schools Have Either Cut Back On Recess Or Eliminated It
We can only hope that this will also extend to older children, since nationwide, about 40% of schools have either cut back on recess or eliminated it altogether.
Shockingly, in Chicago public schools, most students do not have recess or daily physical education. The schools eliminated recess decades ago by shortening the lunch period to 20 minutes and having teachers take their lunch at the end of the day.
Mayor Emanuel Offering Schools Financial Incentives To Lengthen School Day
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is trying to do something about that: he is offering to give up to $150,000 in discretionary money and a roughly 2 percent raise for teachers to any school that lengthens its day by 90 minutes. The extended time could include a 45-minute block for recess and lunch. So far, teachers at nine schools have voted to accept that offer.
Union officials are furious at what they see as an intrusion into their domain, but Emanuel responds that this was a pledge he made while campaigning, so he is merely keeping his promise.
Let The Children Play!
If getting kids outside to exercise is the result, then I’m all for it. As I wrote here, when children don’t get outside to exercise, they suffer physically, socially, cognitively and spiritually.
Congratulations to Chicago for restoring recess!
Photo Credit: iStock