Push for more recess in Va. schools gets support from lawmakers

The More Recess for Virginians movement seeks to make recess a part of instructional time in school.

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — When Barbara Larrimore’s son started kindergarten, the adjustment wasn’t easy.

“He started displaying nervous behaviors and we really wanted to look into how to get a more balanced school day for our kids,” said Larrimore.

She said the 15 minutes he was allotted for recess at his school in Prince William County was not enough.

Larrimore, whose kids are now 3, 6 and 9, started the More Recess for Virginians movement. The idea is that recess time should be counted as instructional time.

Right now, it’s not.

The change would give public schools in Virginia the flexibility to offer students more time on the playground in addition to their time at a desk.

The proposal attracted attention across the state. Larrimore said there have been supporters from Roanoke, Richmond and Fairfax.

Cecilia Alvarez from Fairfax is one of them.

Her kids are 7, 10 and 13 years old.

“They do need breaks. They need to refresh their brain, recharge and go back to the class with a lot more energy,” she said.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle — and both chambers — are listening.

Larrimore and Alvarez were at the Capitol Tuesday for a final vote in the House on a bill backing the idea.

From the gallery, they cheered when delegates voted 97-3 in their favor.

“We’re super, super extremely happy,” said Alvarez.

A similar proposal already passed the Senate. That vote was unanimous.

While these moms said most people have been on board with the proposal, some critics think transitioning recess time into academic time will have a negative impact on subjects like math, science, English and social studies.

Larrimore said there is a trade off.

“Whatever time that we would take away from the four core subjects, we would be giving back with actual learning and not fidgity or anxious neurotic behavior,” she said.

To learn more about More Recess for Virginians, click here.