Did your school Say YES to Recess?

Did your school Say YES to Recess?
Author: Summer Belloni, MISD Parent and SHAC member

Are YOUR kids able to play more at school this year? Most of MISD’s elementary schools have increased recess time this year  – and this is something we should all be celebrating!

We wanted to follow-up on the 2017 Recess Initiative and keep you informed about the progress and current status of recess in MISD elementary schools.

Student Health Advisory Council (SHAC ) members in Midland ISD have worked hard for the past year researching the importance of daily recess for elementary students. In June 2018, we presented our findings and recommendations to our school board and superintendent. Several principals, parents, and students also attended. We’re excited to report that our hard work has paid off for many students.

Our superintendent, school board members, principals, and teachers have been supportive and, as a result, almost all elementary schools have added additional recess time into into their schedules have been willing to, “Say YES to Recess!”  In fact, many of our schools have increased recess time to 30 minutes for all elementary grade levels which was a major component of our recommendation.  

While we know our work isn’t done, we’re happy with incremental progress and with the quick and positive response we’ve had from our leaders and teachers.  We have a new superintendent and many new staff members so this serves as a highlight of one of the positive changes our district is implementing for our elementary students.  

Our formal recess recommendation included developing a written recess school board policy for all elementary students that includes 30-60 minutes of daily recess and prohibits withholding recess as punishment for punitive or academic reasons. We submitted a draft board policy, research to support the policy, and our survey reflecting our community’s values.

A written policy would ensure equity, safeguard recess for all children, and serve as a message to our community about the important benefits recess provides to children. Recess should be a fundamental curriculum component for all elementary school children that can’t be “played” with each year as principals change.

For more information about our work see the links below:

November 2017

Initial MISD Recess Initiative  Article

December 2017
FB Group formed for local recess advocates that includes parents, teachers, administrators, and community members

January 2018

“MISD Parents Advocate for More Elementary School Recess”

MISD Parents Advocating for Longer Recess Break

VIDEO Interview  

June 2018 – SHAC Documents and Presentation to the MISD Board of Trustees

Draft Policy Recommendation with Research Summary

Community Survey

School Board Presentation (SHAC presentation to 1:34:48)

July 2018

More Elementary Schools to Offer Additional Time for Recess

Local Teen to Perform at CMA FEST in Nashville, TN

Permian Kids is  always excited to share positive news about kids and families in the Permian Basin. You may remember we shared about Connor Elton back in January here.

Today we are excited to share that he will be performing during the CMA Fest in Nashville on June 7th!  Way to go, Connor!

This will be his first year to appear on the Just Love Music stage on Music Row. If you happen to be in Nashville come check him out.  The venue is open to all ages, no cover and is family friendly with indoor seating.

While in Nashville, he will also take classes in vocals, piano, and songwriting with professionals such as Renee Grant-Williams, Christy Southerland, Jason Carson, and more!

Connor now has three singles out (Sweet Memories, Curve Ball, and Struck by Lightening) that are available on iTunes, CD Baby, Spotify, and Amazon.

When Connor isn’t involved in music, he also makes time to play football, basketball, and Track for the Trinity Chargers.

To learn more about his music or to book him for your next event you may email him here.

Way to go Connor.  Congratulations and we look forward to hearing about your continued success – from all of us in the Permian Basin!

Teacher Appreciation Week

Teacher Appreciation Week

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week at schools all across the country.  As I reflect on the year my Kindergarten son has had, I just knew I had to take the time to acknowledge all the unique ways we appreciate his teacher.

Please recognize the irony that this post is a day late from the actual teacher appreciation DAY, which was yesterday.  This should be no surprise to my son’s teacher that I’m often scrambling and trying to keep it together, so I’m sure she’s not surprised at all that this comes a day late… but like she has done all year, she’s always ready for my son, always prepared for her literacy centers, her math stations, and the individual book boxes filled with “just right” books for the kids.  I’m forever thankful that she gives of her time and funds for our children – always going above and beyond to keep our kids learning and engaged.  I’m always appreciative that she cuts me some slack when I make a mistake.


So…. here goes… huge shout out to Mrs. Terebessy, worlds best Kindergarten teacher!


  • She brings in How-To Draw Dinosaur books
She’s taught an entire unit on dinosaurs this year and we are forever thankful.  Most schools don’t teach about dinosaurs in Kinder anymore, but she does!  She incorporated non-fiction reading, writing, drawing/labeling, science, land forms, and ART into this unit.  My son was so inspired that he used his own birthday money to buy more How-To Draw books and a sketch pad.  She’s inspired him to love art and learn drawing techniques – all the while sneaking in learning about history, science, reading, and writing!


  • She hosts a lunch bunch for her students
    This is a positive incentive for positive behavior.  Students earn stickers toward eating lunch with the teacher in the classroom.  This gives the children time to get to know their teacher.  According to my son, she loves soccer, Reese’s peanut butter cups, and says “Colorado” funny.   This is a great way for her to get to know our kids too – just don’t believe everything they say, especially if they tell you about the time Mom got a speeding ticket.  Ha ha.
  • She brings in Pokemon Cards
Okay really? “Yes, Mommy, really.  Mrs. Terebessy has a binder of Pokemon cards behind her desk!”  She brought in her son’s Pokemon card collection and let’s the kids look at the cards carefully.  Her son is now in college.  Let’s acknowledge right here and now that if you bring in Pokemon Cards my son will think you’re the true Teacher Goddess you really are!  He was amazed to see old cards that aren’t made anymore.


  • Sends me pictures of food labels
    She has been so thoughtful in considering my son’s food allergies.  Occasionally she’ll send me a picture of a label to double check whether or not he can have a snack or treat being provided.  If there is a whole class party I can always bring in something safe to eat for him and/or everyone.  I know she’s aware of his allergies and if she’s not sure she’ll check with me.  This makes me feel like he has an ally on campus and will be kept safe!
  • Classroom Farm
This Spring she brought in farm animals.  And by brought in, I mean she taught the life-cycles by bringing in chicken eggs, duck eggs, preying mantis eggs, caterpillar larvae that turned into butterflies, and ladybug eggs.  Over the course of a month the kids got to watch the life-cycles happen at their desks and in almost every corner of the classrooms. THIS is true learning.  The kids got to learn by watching, holding, listening, and talking about what was happening.  Each child got to hold and touch the animals, write about them and more.  This was a magical month when my son woke up every morning eager to get ready to check on the animals at school.


  • Friends and family are always welcome
    Because Kindergarten has so many wonderful things happening all day, my son wants to share with his brother all the great things he did  most days.  It’s no surprise that Brother wants to come check out the classroom fun after school.  Mrs. Terebessy is often working late after school and welcomes our family in so we can see what activities have been done that day.  When grandparents visit, she welcomes them to come see the exciting learning happening too.  Our son  got to show his grandparents every inch of the classroom, meticulously explaining every chart, every poster, every routine, and every book and binder he could.  It was fun to see his ownership over the classroom, his knowledge about the importance of each piece, and his pride in his work!
  • She reads aloud chapter books and other quality literature
    Being in Kinder, but wanting to be older, my son was so happy that his teacher was reading aloud a Magic Treehouse Book.  His brother has read many of them already so he felt like he could be part of the “reading club” and be able to talk about what happens in each book.  He was so motivated that he began reading some of the books too! It’s not uncommon that he comes home  telling us funny parts of different books she’s read that day.
  • Library Choice
    When the class goes to the library she lets him pick his books.  Sometimes he comes home with books that are too hard and some that area just right.  He’s proud because he gets to self-select books, from the selection provided.  This helps him stay motivated to read them or look at the pictures.  She’s helped create a positive feeling about going to the library to pick books, even if we don’t read every single word of every single book.
    • Puppy Friends
Mrs. Terebessy really does an amazing job at teaching literacy.  She was reading a book to the kids about a dog, and it just so happened that she had two dogs at home similar to the ones in the book.  So… like any good teacher she brought her dogs in to help bring the story to life.  She let the kids pet her dogs and engage with them as they roamed around the room for a short time.  My son was  so happy to pet his teacher’s dog after finishing up his math work for the day.  This was special because she showed she trusts the kids with her personal puppies.

  • Reading Centers
    Mrs. Terebessy does Daily 5 and other interactive, choice based, student led methods for her literacy stations.  This helps my son feel independent and trusted to choose what to complete each day.  He knows he has to do all the work, but has a little wiggle room in when he finishes the work.  Knowing she trusts her class and helps guide them to make positive choices feels good as a parent.
  • Math Games
    She has games, games, games for her math stations.  Although technically she follows Kindergarten standards, she has a lot of fun games to reinforce the ideas  and concepts she’s teaching.  She can use this time to work with kids on math concepts and behavioral expectations.  By allowing time for “games” in her classroom almost every day, she gives the kids a chance to practice their math skills, while at the same time practice social skills!  I think every elementary grade should have time for “games” so kids can practice social skills.
  • Messages Pictures
She uses the Class Dojo app to share pictures of our kids in a private, safe, secure way.  We all know that after school kids can be tired and hangry.  At least mine are.  It’s nice to see my son engaged in work,  releasing butterflies, or otherwise enjoying school and smiling during the day.  We think about our kids while at school and being able to see pictures throughout the weeks and months helps us know that, even when they come home hangry, they still had a good day at school – because we saw the pictures!

  • Saving the best for last…….
    When I thought about writing this post and started listing ideas about what I wanted to say, I asked my son, “What has been favorite part about Kindergarten this year? What do you love most about your teacher?”
His reply wasn’t surprising.  He said, “Hmmmmm  that’s a really hard question. There are so many things, I can’t think of just one!” 
There you have it!  I’m sure I could easily think of 10 more to add.


We really appreciate having a great Kindergarten teacher who goes above and beyond to help our son learn and enjoy coming to school.  And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention recess.  He loves recess too – and at our school the Kinder teachers gives 30 minutes each day!


What do YOU appreciate about your child’s teacher? 


PS. We also love the PE teacher and ART teachers too!  That would require another post entirely…. we especially love those dance moves our son comes home with from PE!  ha ha ha



In what seems like the never ending social media cycle of the blame game  assigning fault for society’s problems lately squarely on parents and/or teachers, I want to ask every single parent to pause, take a breath, and remind yourself that nobody is always perfect.   So while my perfect angel may misbehave at school (What?? Not my baby, he would never do anything wrong!  wink wink), I appreciate our teacher’s help in redirecting and reengaging him should My Precious be less than perfect, like his mom is.


Happy Teacher Appreciation week to YOU, the parents too –
You truly are your child’s first and most important teacher!


Could you imagine if we all stepped back from perfection and said, “Thank you” more often? Perhaps we, the parents are the avenue by which we can improve our schools and improve the culture on our campuses.  Let’s not expect perfection.  I encourage you to share something you appreciate about your child’s teacher with our Permian Kids community and with their teacher.   Remember, it’s never too late to show appreciation.  Every week could be Teacher Appreciation Week if we wanted it to be.
What do YOU appreciate about your child’s teacher? 

Spring Break Camps – 2018

Are you looking for a Spring Break camp for your child? Check out the list below and register today.  Spaces are limited. First come, first served.

Sibley Nature Center – “Spirit of West Texas”
Cost: $125 member / $150 non-member
Dates: March 12 – 15th Monday-Thursday
Age: 3rd – 5th Grade
Time: 9AM – 4PM

Description: The Spirit of West Texas is alive and well at Sibley Nature Center.  This camp focuses on a mix of nature, science, and history.  Kids will learn about survival skills from both past and present, how to cook when you don’t have a microwave (or modern grocery store!), make up their own games (who needs iPads for entertainment anyway), and learn how to work together to trade and compromise. Students will learn form the successes and failures of Texans in the 1800s.  Campers follow clues left behind by the Spirit of West Texas leading to a week of spinning wool, cooking over campfires, whittling toys, and learning how Texas History still helps us today.
More information and registration

COM Aquatics
“Spring Break Camps 2018”
Half Day $25
Full Day $40
Half day all week $110
Full day all week $175
Date: March 12 – March 16 (Monday – Friday)
Age: 3-13
Time: Full Day – 8:30am – 3:30pm; includes lunch.
Half-Day – 8:30am – 11:30am or 12:30pm – 3:30 pm; lunch not offered

Description: Drop the kids off with us for a day filled with fun gymnastics, rope swing, swimming, diving boards and more!
Register here.
Full payment required at time of registration, there will be no refunds for cancellations. Registration will close when the event is full or by 8:00am starting each day.

Midland Community Theater
“Fine Arts Camp”
Cost: $100 member /$125 non-member
Date: March 12 – March 16 (Monday – Friday)
Age: Grades K-6
Time: 8:30am – 3:30pm

Description: MCT has camps for grades K-6 (sign up is based on grade).  They focus on studying drama, art, puppetry, dance, and music inspired by literature and fine arts.  They create a performance piece for presentation to family and friends on the last day of classes.
Register Here

Midland YMCA
All Sports Mini Camp
Cost: $35 members; $75 non-member
Date: March 12 – March 16 (Monday – Friday)
Age: 5-12
Time: 1pm – 4pm

Description: YMCA All sports mini-camp offer children the opportunity to learn a variety of skills including indoor soccer, volleyball, basketball, flag-football, and water safety and pool games. They place a priority on healthy competition, the value of participation over winning and team building.

Registration and Information
Call Midland YMCA at 432-682-2551

Permian Playhouse
“Villains: A Wicked Good Camp”
Cost: $150; $125 for each additional sibling.
Date: March 12 – 16, 2018 (Monday – Friday)
Age: Grades 1-6
Registration Form – Bring completed form with you on the first day of camp.

Kidd’s and Canvas Art Camp
“Books and Brushes”  for ages 4 – 5 years old.
Cost: $45/day or $150 for all 4 days
Date: March 12 – 15 (Monday – Thursday)
Time: 10am – 2pm
Age: 4-5 * (Children must be potty trained)
Description:Books & Brushes is an Art camp geared for FUN for your little one! Each day we will read a book and have painting activities and crafts based on the book we have read! All necessary supplies will be provided by Kidd’s & Canvas Parties.
Register Online or call 432-312-0273

“It’s All About Fun” for ages 6-13 years old.
Cost: $45/day or $150 for all 4 days
Date: March 12 – 15 (Monday – Thursday)
Time: 10am – 2pm
Age: 6-13*
Description:  Campers will get a taste of many different mediums from Painting to Slime making, Mixed Media and more.  Making their break worthwhile, campers create memories, make new friends, and produce artwork they’ll be proud to show off.”
Register Online or call 432-312-0273

Lunch: Children may bring a sack lunch or you may purchase a daily meal ticket for $5 per day.

*Classes will take place simultaneously in separate classrooms. Older siblings are welcome to come in to visit their younger siblings and spend time with each other throughout the day. Lunch is together.

Sockers Camp
“Sockers Spring Break Camp”
Cost: $75/week
Date: March 12 – 15 (Monday – Thursday)
Time: 1pm – 5pm
Age: 4-13
Description: Learn from the top soccer coaches and players in West Texas! The following basic and advance skills will be taught: Dribbling and foot skills, passing and mobility, receiving and turning, shooting and passing.
Each camper will receive 2 FREE Sockers FC NPSL game tickets!
Register Online

Midland Parks and Recreation
“MLK Adventures”
Cost: $40/week
Date: March 12 – 16 (Monday – Friday)
Time: 1pm – 5pm
Age: 6-12
Description: High energy games, movies, arts and crafts, indoor and outdoor activities! For more information please call 432-685-7355.
Registration: Register in person at the Martin Luther King Center located at 2300 Butternut Lane, Midland, TX 79705.

Museum of the Southwest – No drop off camps, however they are providing daily family activities with local community partners.
Come spend it at the Museum! Each day features family-friendly cartoons, an outdoor activity, art and science activities and much more to spark the imagination.
Sample Schedule
10:30 am | Cartoons in the dome
11:15 am | Outdoor movement with local guests
12:00 pm | Storytime for Tots with Keep Midland Beautiful & Food Trucks
12:30 pm | Community Partner Activity
noon – 2 pm | Craft Activity

Be sure to check out the monthly events calendar for other fun activities planned throughout the month for your kids and family.

Visit our Facebook page for other announcements and news that isn’t in our events calendar.

Connor Elton, Local 12 Year Old, Releases His First Single

“Sweet Memories” by Connor Elton

Have you heard of Connor Elton?  You might want to get his autograph soon because we think he’s going places…straight up the music charts!

Local Midland student, musician, and talented singer/songwriter, Connor Elton, has just released his first single Sweet Memories and it’s available now in iTunes.

Connor is a 12 year old student at Trinity School in Midland. He started his musical journey at age 6 and currently plays the guitar, piano, and saxophone.  Connor says, “I like to sing songs from my heart and hope that people will enjoy my singing and continue to support me as my musical career moves forward.” We already love this song Connor and can’t wait to hear more from you in the future.

Sweet Memories is an original song written by Connor and two of his friends. He is currently working on other songs and will be recording them later this year.

Song is available on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, and Spotify.
To follow Connor, subscribe to his YouTube Channel


January Events Calendar – Highlights

January’s events calendar is filling up!

If you haven’t hopped over to the Events Calendar yet, go take a peek and find something fun for your whole family.  Many events on our calendar are free or reasonably priced and open to the public.

If you’re on social media, we post information about local activities, conferences, announcements, etc. on our Facebook Page.

Just a few highlights below for January!

Midland YMCA Super Bowl Squares 2018

Baby Storytime

Third Thursday Reading Program

Odessa College Basketball vs Howard College – Spirit Night!

Garden Explorers: Weather

Free Guided Trail Walk

Royal Penguin Child/Family Paint Session
Activities for Kids in Midland Texas
 activities for kids in Odessa
Raising a family in Midland
Raising a family in Permian Basin
What is there to do in Midland
Events in Midland
Events in the Permian Basin

“More Recess, Please”

Permian Kids’s founder, Summer Belloni, is advocating for more recess in local public elementary schools. Here is the local coverage in the MRT from

Tuesday, January 2, 2018.
















“One fifteen  (15) minute break per day in a child’s long 7 1/2 hour school day isn’t enough to promote a healthy mind and body,” Belloni said.

After considering the research for themselves, several Midland schools have already made changes, and we’re hearing more will be evaluating their recess schedules in January 2018!

We encourage all parents to schedule a meeting with their child’s principal and offer support for more recess.

Schools such as Fasken, Yarborough, Fannin, Carver, and Scharbauer have already, or will be considering new models to incorporate additional recess time for some grade levels.


Midland’s Gifted Education Services

It’s that time of year again.  For those who and are new to Midland and want your child tested for public, gifted education these deadlines are important. If you haven’t read this article yet “MISD Public Gifted Education”, we strongly recommend reading it.

Applications for gifted (GEM and GT) are due Tuesday, January 31st!

Orientation Sessions are being held on the following dates/locations:

Elementary (GEM)
Grades 1-5
Carver Center, 1300 Wall Street
Tuesday, January 16
12 noon and 5pm

Secondary (GT)
Grades 6-11
Carver Center, 1300 Wall Street
Wednesday, January 17
12 noon and 5pm

December Events Calendar

December 4 – Read to Clementine @ Ector County Library

December 4 – SciGuirls STEM Club @ Midland County Library

December 6 – Santa Baby – Adult Paint & Sip Event @ Kidd’s Paint and Canvas

December 7 – Baby Storytime @ Ector County Library

December 7 – After School Storytime & Craft-2nd-6th Grade @ Ector County Library

December 8-9, 14-16  – Miracle on 34th Street  @ Midland Community Theater

December 8 – Santa Land @ McKinney Park

December 8 – Yuletide At The Yucca @ Yucca Theater

December 9 – Nature Club: Christmas Bird Count @ Sibley Nature Center

December 9 –Preserve Cleanup Day @ I-20Wildlife Preserve

December 9 – Midland Grasslands Carriage Ride

December 9 – Merry Mustang Market

December 9 – Christmas Parade: Midland’s Merry Emoji Christmas

December 12 – Tales and Trails: Nocturnal Animals @ Sibley Nature Center

December 13 – Holiday Open House @ Wagner Noel Art Museum
Includes a visit from Santa, art stations, treats, and live music

December 14 – Free Reading Program for Kids @ George W. Bush Childhood Home

December 8-9, 14-16  – Miracle on 34th Street  @ Midland Community Theater

December 16 – Family Fitmas @ YMCA Midland

December 16 – Saturday Movie: Polar Express @ Midland County Library Centennial  Branch

December 16 – Kids Night Out – Painting & Pizza – Parents, Take a load off! @ Kidd’s & Canvas Paint Parties

December 19 – Storytime & Craft: Happy Holidays @ Ector County Library

December 20 – Art Tales Story and Art Activities @ Wagner Noel Art Museum

December 21 – Hogwarts Holiday @ Midland County Library

December 26 – January 5 – Winter Camp @ COM Aquatics

December 28 – Baby Storytime @ Ector County Library

MISD Recess Initiative

Dear Midland Parents

My name is Summer and I have two boys in MISD elementary schools. When I moved to Midland I was surprised to learn how our schools ranked.  Having spent my entire career in education, all my instincts were telling me MISD needed help and there are actionable changes the district could do to improve.

Of the ideas I had, one thing that jumped out as an easy idea to help was to increase the recess time given to elementary kids. Most schools in MISD provide elementary students with ONE 15 minute recess break after lunch.  Our kids attend school for 7 1/2 hours per day!  One short break isn’t enough.  Research shows that kids who have regularly scheduled breaks in their day perform better academically and benefit socially, emotionally, and behaviorally as well.

Yes, we want our children to be educated, like all parents do, but we also find value in giving kids regularly scheduled, unstructured breaks in order to keep up with ever increasing demands of school.  We also know schools in Texas are already seeing positive results by increasing recess minutes.  Some schools even in Midland are already providing longer than 15 minutes per day.

If you would like to help, keep reading!

Adults get breaks at work and this helps them focus.  Adults typically get an hour break for lunch and can take additional breaks as needed to refocus, use the restroom, get drinks, and chat at the water cooler.  These short breaks help you stay focused on getting your work done – and kids need breaks too.

Having breaks like recess actually help kids focus more at school.  I have included links to much of this research below for your review.

When I realized how little recess our children get compared to schools across the country, I began hoping to improve this situation for our children and sought out the principals at the schools my children attend.  In addition, I emailed the superintendent, Orlando Riddick, who acknowledged that he’s aware of the benefits of recess.  He directed me to meet with the Executive Directors of Elementary Education and the Director of Health and Wellness.  So I did.

In this short time period, I’ve met key decision makers, principals, and parents.  Everyone agrees that we need more recess time for our students and some schools have enacted change already.  Some schools are providing 30 minutes of recess while others are still providing 15 minutes.   I’m advocating for increased recess time for all K-6 students. 

This is where we need YOUR help and participation.  I’ve spoken to some of you about this concern and you’ve asked, “How can I help?”  Now I have the answerI’m asking for all parents (moms, dads, and even preschool parents who will be in Kindergarten in the next few years) to email your child’s principal and let them know you support adding recess minutes to your school. 

 Let the principal know you support them and support increasing the amount of recess our children get every day!

Further reading on the benefits of recess and FAQs  can be found below.

Research Supporting Recess

LiinkProject at TCU – Four 15 minute breaks

11 Benefits of Recess in Elementary Schools

AAP Considers Recess a Necessary Break From the Demands of School

The Crucial Role of Recess in School – Council on School Health

State Advocacy Focus – American Academy of Pediatrics

The Role of Recess in Children’s Cognitive Performance and School Adjustment

No Recess for Recess
For children with ADHD, the endangered school recess is an essential activity that improves focus and behavior in the classroom. One expert explains why it needs to stick around.

Guide to Recess Planning in Schools (US Department of Health and Human Services and Society of Health and Physical Educators)

Alternative School Discipline Options to Withholding Recess

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. My kids have PE every week, isn’t that good enough?
A. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 60 minutes per day of “moderate to vigorous activity” and recognizes the role of recess as being an integral piece of how kids meet this recommendation.  In fact, in this study recess was shown to provide children with 30% more activity minutes than a standard physical education program.

I’ve conducted my own research into the question as well.  I gave my son a pedometer (FitBit) to wear to school and we saw the difference in his activity minutes in recess vs. physical education.  For the allotted PE minutes per week (135 min), he was active for 10 min or more 21% of the time.  For the allotted recess minutes per week (75 min), he was active for 10  min or more 48% of the time.  This wasn’t a randomized, controlled study and I recognize I had a sample size of a whopping 1 student, however I think it represents reality in our schools currently.

Let’s also take a minute here to recognize the value of PE.  A quality physical education program is important in teaching kids skills in learning new sports, practice time, stretching routines, teamwork, sportsmanship, resiliency, and more. However, PE class is not effective at giving kids the unstructured break,  mentally and physically, they need from the demands of being at school over 7 hours per day.

Q. Aren’t there programs online that help kids in this way?
I’m advocating for regularly scheduled, unstructured recess, preferably outdoors. There are online sites such as GoNoodle , however they are structured.  Sites such as gonoodle require students to stare at a screen, all while being told when and how to move.  This option could be used as supplementary in the classroom, but shouldn’t be relied upon as meeting the children’s needs on a daily basis.

Harvard Medical School promotes the benefits of recess as free, unstructured, active and creative time, not sitting in front of a TV or screen.

Q. What about our teachers, do they support this? 
A. We only have minimal feedback on this right now since only a few classrooms in MISD are giving more than 15 minutes.  Of the teacher’s we’ve spoken to directly they have told us, “Thank You!”  They indicate giving kids the extra break(s) is, “Just what the kids have needed.”  Schools that participate in LiinkProject report, “I have a better attitude about my job.  Knowing I’ll only be in the classroom for 45 minutes to an hour, then I’ll get a break too!”

Q. Do other schools have more recess than ours?
. In Texas, there is research coming from TCU showing the amazing benefits of allowing kids to have four 15 minute “breaks” per day.  More than a dozen schools around Dallas and some in Oklahoma are experiencing positive results from ProjectLiink. Teachers, parents, and students all see the positive outcomes from giving kids the opportunity to play and have a break.  They are seeing increased focus in the classroom, more on-task behaviors, and overall positive social and emotional feelings about wanting to come to school everyday.  Please take a moment to click the link and see the benefits of Project Liink through their parent page!

Also, some schools in MISD are already giving kids 30 minutes per day.  These schools should be held up as models for all schools in the district.

Some districts in Texas have recently modified their Board policies to include a separate and distinct recess policy that requires minimum minutes each day.

Q. Will this cost more for schools or taxpayers?
I’m advocating for adding more regularly scheduled, unstructured recess, preferably outdoors.
Recess is free.  The playgrounds are already on campuses.  There won’t be any additional expenses to the schools or districts.  Children may desire additional recess equipment (balls) which could be purchased through PTA funds.

Q. Isn’t playing only for little kids? Do  11 year olds really need to play?
While some may feel that recess should only be allotted to our youngest children, research shows the benefits to kids and adolescents is similar. “Although specified time afforded for recess diminishes with age, the benefits of periodic breaks in the academic day to optimize cognitive processing applies equally to adolescents and to younger children.”

Q. I’ve heard MISD has a Student Health Advisory Committee.  What do they think?
MISD’s Student Health Advisory Committee is addressing concerns this year as it relates to mental health. I’ve attended several meetings and will be presenting on the topic of recess soon. In the meantime, I think we can do a lot for our youngest children’s mental health by giving them more unstructured, outdoor, recess – for all students Grades K-6!

Photo Credit: © Sonya Etchison ID 2982363 | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Do you want to help? Are you willing to help your kids and be a recess hero?  I’m asking you to email your child’s principal and let them know you support increasing the recess minutes during the school day.

Q. I don’t feel comfortable writing an email myself, do you have a sample? 
A. Why yes, we do – Sample Email to Principal

Q.  What Else Can I Do?
Communicate support to the educational leaders in MISD.  You may send individual emails to the leaders below, or send one email and copy the group below.

1. Email your school’s principal and let him/her know you support increasing our recess minutes.

2. Email your child’s teacher and let him/her know you support increasing our recess minutes.

3. Email our superintendent and let him know you support increasing our recess minutes. Email: orlando.riddick@midlandisd.net

4. Email your Board of Trustee representative and let him/her know you support increasing our recess minutes and would be in favor of increasing recess time in all K-6 classrooms in MISD.

Finally –  if you’ve made it all the way here and are still wondering what monkey bars and test scores have in common, read this! 

Our community leaders need to hear from parents in a positive, kind, and respectful way.  Let’s all work together to be on the same team in an effort to help our kids succeed!