No Time For Play

The nonprofit organization Playworks has trained several dozen schools in Washington -- including Bellevue Public Schools -- how to turn recess from the traditional free time into an organized activity period.
Courtesy of Playworks

The recess for the youngest students at Ardmore Elementary School in Bellevue doesn’t look like your typical recess.

Flickr Photo/Joe Shlabotnik (CC-BY-NC-ND)

In decades past, elementary students had recess several times a day.

Today, parents and teachers across the country report dramatic cutbacks to that free time. In Seattle, the length of recess varies dramatically from school to school – from an hour to just 15 minutes.

Fourth-graders at Schmitz Park Elementary in West Seattle play capture the flag in their outdoor P.E. class.
KUOW Photo/Ann Dornfeld

At a playfield in West Seattle, physical education teacher C.J. Sealey referees with a piercing whistle. Sealey aims to get these kids moving – after all, state law demands that elementary and middle school students get at least 100 minutes of P.E. every week.