Web Exclusive: Arkansas elementary students get double the recess

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NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KARK) – Next school year, many elementary students in Arkansas will get double the recess time.

A new state law increases play time from 20 to 40 minutes a day.

Several North Little Rock schools participated in a pilot project this year with an hour-long recess.

Lori Smith, the executive director of Elementary Curriculum, Assessment and Accountability, said the students stayed more on task, but the teachers found it cut into their instruction time more than expected.

“So we looked at that [the new law] as potentially losing 20 minutes of instruction,” Smith said.  

However, the district quickly landed on a solution. Elementary schools will still start at 7:50 a.m.

“We weren’t messing with the start time,” Smith said.

But instead of the final bell ringing at 2:30 p.m., it will be at 2:50.

“It didn’t really affect our bus routes or our middle school or high school plans,” Smith said. 

Principals and their staff at each of the district’s nine elementary schools will decide how to split up the 40 minutes of play time. Some will extend lunch-time recess by ten minutes and have another ten minutes at the end of the day, while others will use it to fix tardiness.

“Putting that extra recess first thing in the morning so that can be an incentive to get kids in school on time and if they are a little late, it’s not taken out of instruction,” Smith said. “With as much screen time as kids get these days, it’s nice that they have planned and built-in opportunities that they need to communicate with one another, work on problem solving, work together to come up with a game or solve differences.”  

Other schools across the state are still discussing how they plan to implement the new law into their daily schedules. 

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