SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – For many students, recess is the best time of day. The State Board of Education is adopting guidelines to make sure that playtime is preserved and productive. 

The new guidelines will be read in and adopted at the board’s December 6th meeting; they offer information, resources, and ‘best practices’ including: never using physical activity as a punishment, never taking away recess as a punishment or make-up time, and game options during recess. 

Board member Jennie Earl said of schools, “It’s not uncommon for them to reduce recess time thinking that if they increase academic time they’re going to have higher success rates on their grading system, the opposite is actually true.” She says research is clear, all students perform better when they have regular breaks that include exercise. 

Kerri Walker is a Behavior Interventionist at Ridgecrest Elementary; she said, “A lot of time you’ll see that those same students who teacher might use the consequence of taking recess away are the students who need recess the most.”

Ridgecrest El. and the rest of the Canyons District uses a program called Playworks during recess to make the most out of playtime. Playworks initiates clear, fun games for kids that are consistent across grade levels then trains older students to lead those games out on the playground.  The board’s new guidelines recommend a similar model to all schools, citing research that this kind of leadership on the playground increases participation and decreases bullying. 

The guidelines are not mandatory but are an opportunity for all schools in the state to reevaluate how they utilize recess and find the best methods for students and teachers.