SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Legislation sponsored by Senator Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr.  that would aid with child development by increasing cognitive skills, and bettering classroom behavior by ensuring all children receive some free play time during the school day cleared the full Senate this summer. The bill, S-1144, would require New Jersey public schools to provide a minimum of 20 minutes a day of recess for children in grades kindergarten through fifth.

“This is an important piece of legislation for our school children, especially those who are younger and still developing,” said Senator Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “Students need a break and distraction to recharge for the rest of the day.  It’s been proven to improve academics in children that going out to play. Recess promotes an active healthy lifestyle and is the one time a day when they go outside to play in an unstructured way.”

According to a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report, most school principals say that recess actually enhances the ability of children to learn in the classroom and improves academic achievement. The survey also concluded that nearly all principals surveyed believe that recess has a positive effect on the social development and general well-being of the child.

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Unfortunately many schools are taking away recess in order to focus on meeting academic standards and improving student test scores. Forty percent of U.S. schools have reduced or eliminated recess, according to Childhood Education, the bimonthly journal of the Association for Childhood Education International, and high-minority, high-poverty and urban schools have seen even greater cuts into children’s recess time.

The bill does address that a student could be denied recess regarding the findings of an investigation into Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying (HIB) or another violation of the district’s code of student conduct.

The bill cleared the Senate 36-0 and will now head to the Assembly for further consideration.