By Elisabeth Harrison
Providence, R.I. – Parents and school officials in East Providence meet tonight about a controversial policy ending recess before or after lunch. Loss of unstructured playtime is part of a national trend that worries some child development experts. But East Providence officials say they are not trying to do away with playtime.
The goal, they say, is to develop a new physical education program that includes more time for gym classes. Instead of recess, teachers will supervise at least 10 minutes of physical activity when they feel students need it. Superintendent Mario Cirillo calls it improving recess.
"It gives our teachers another role to play in the sense of socializing with children," Cirillo says. "So all in all it's a homerun for us to take advantage of this, to tighten this area up."
But tightening up is not what some parents want. They say 10 minutes to run around after lunch is important for kids, and some child development experts agree. The American Society of Pediatrics says free play is important for social skills and brain development. They're concerned children don't have enough playtime in today's busy, digital world.