Dear future President,
Teens between the ages of 14-18 should have at least 60 minutes a day of physical activity. When pre-teens start middle school there is no more recess (for the rest of their school life) . With many students obtaining hours of homework a night, how can it be expected that they to get 60 minutes each day of running, biking, swimming or walking? It is undoubtedly a world full of technology, and students of all ages are neglecting their physical health more than ever. It is society’s job to make sure that students of all ages incorporate a lifestyle that promotes some sort of daily movement. The United States should take a page from the book of countries like Finland, which offers students of all ages, appropriate recess time. An article from The Atlantic News documents an American teacher and her experiences teaching in Finland for the first time. She recalls her first time experiencing student recess outside of the primary grade levels, stating “Once I incorporated these short recesses into our timetable, I no longer saw feet-dragging, zombie-like kids in my classroom. Throughout the school year, my Finnish students would—without fail—enter the classroom with a bounce in their steps after a 15-minute break. And most importantly, they were more focused during lessons.” It is imperative that we do something about this.
From preschool to fifth grade you are promised a morning recess and a afternoon recess, but what about middle school and high school students? All they have is lunch, which typically is about 20-25 minutes. According to www.choosemyplate.com, “Children should have 60 minutes or of physical activity each day. Most 60 minutes should be either moderate or vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity…..” Teens spend an average of 6 to 7 hours in school according to the National Center for Education Statistics. This does not include coming home and having homework, extracurricular activities or a job. According to an article by the US News titled, Students Spend More Time on Homework but Teachers Say It’s Worth It. “Teens spend up to 17.5 hours of homework week.” Teens go throughout the course of their day from class to class, without many breaks. On top of all this they have to wake up early, usually around 5-6 am. Elementary students typically have less homework and usually have to wake up later, and yet they still have breaks.
High schools and middle schools do not provide physical activity or breaks unless you have a gym or health elective. All high schools and middle school should provide physical activity and breaks for all students. There are benefits to this as well. The CDC says states, ”Physical activity can have an impact on cognitive skills and attitudes and academic behavior, all of which are important components of improved academic performance. These include enhanced concentration and attention as well as improved classroom behavior.” Physical activity can give students a break as well as help them improve their academics. In addition to helping a student be more successful in the classroom, it could also help cut back on the amount of students who are overweight or obese. Currently there are around 31.3% in the United States obese children under the age of 18 according to http://kff.org/. This number will continue to grow as the workload gets larger and technology becomes more addicting.
Not having breaks or physical activity could cause a lot of stress on high school and middle students. Students have a lot to worry about in school like focusing on getting good grades, stressing out about their test in their next hour, high/ middle school drama and homework. Giving them breaks or physical activities can help them get their mind off it. This will increase the endorphin's in the brain which relieve stress. According to http://www.webmd.com/ “Regular exercise has been proven to reduce stress ward off anxiety, feeling of depression, boost self-esteem, also improve sleep.
Despite this evidence and reasons, there are still people that disagree with having recess and breaks in high/middle school. According to an article from The Breeze, by Brittney Ballnytyne, high school principals and teachers alike are singing the same tune. She writes, “A student’s will to learn is very important to academic success. If you don’t want to be in the classroom, you’re not going to want to pay attention,” Degnan told The Breeze.” Remarks have been made outlining that taking short recess breaks during the day would take away from classroom instruction, and overall hinder a student’s growth.”
In conclusion I suggest that high school students and middle school students should be allowed breaks or physical activities it doesn't always have to be physical. This could also mean playing board games, reading a book or talking with friends. High school and students are not too old for recess or breaks during school. High school and middle school can get pretty difficult and being a sophomore in high school I understand the struggle of being in high school and not getting any breaks. I know by you fixing this it can be a better place to learn and succeed.
Kennedy T, Michigan