Recess in the State of Georgia & VHE

  • The state of Georgia encourages schools to include an average of 30 minutes per day of unstructured activity time (recess); provided, however, that recess shall not be required on any school day on which a student has had physical education or structured activity time or if reasonable circumstances impede such recess, such as inclement weather when no indoor space is available, assemblies or field trips exceeding their scheduled duration, conflicts occuring at the schdeuled recess time over which the classroom teacher has no control, or emergencies, disasters, or acts of God. 

    At VHE, we believe that all students from Pre-K through 5th grade have a minimum of 30 minutes of recess time daily, regardless of students having physical education on the same day.

    All Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade students will have two 20 minute recess breaks for a total of 40 minutes of recess daily. 

    All 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students will have a 30 minute recess break daily.   

Health & Recess

  • Health: Health education is an integral part of the total education of every child from kindergarten through grade 12. Therefore, every student should have the opportunity to participate in quality health education programs. It provides young people with the knowledge and skills they need to become successful learners and healthy and productive adults. To help students adopt and maintain healthy behaviors, health education should contribute directly to a student‟s ability to successfully practice behaviors that protect and promote health and avoid or reduce health risks.  

The Benefits of Outdoor Play

  • The benefits of outdoor play are endless and at VHE, we believe that students need adequate time outside daily.   We also recognize that providing students with more recess daily will promote positive student health outcomes and physical development, social skills development, independence and exploration, cultural learning, improved mood and appreciation for nature, and improving sensory skills and learning. 

    It might look like just play, but when kids are active and running around a playground they are building critical developmental skills. Playgrounds provide the opportunity for children to practice skills that will ultimately play a role in adult competencies, such as the ability to collaborate with others, develop decision-making skills, and successfully take on leadership roles, persevere in the face of distractions, and generate creative ideas.  By creating an environment where children can experience unstructured play, we are not only supporting their physical health but also increasing their chances to succeed in the classroom. Kids pay more attention to academic tasks when they are given frequent, brief opportunities for free play. Recess can also have a calming effect, helping with disciplinary issues and impulse control. Unstructured physical activity on the playground helps kids become smarter, healthier and stronger. 

    Research supports that recess and play are essential factors in helping children build cognitive and social skills. Playgrounds are essential for schools to help foster play and community building. Other benefits of outdoor play are listed below. 

    • Build Motor Skills - Motor skills are also known as coordination.  By providing students with a large play area, it will help them to develop their motor skills. 
    • Promote Physical Health - Playing on a playground can help build healthy habits in children.  It can result in improved cardiorespiratory health, building strong bones, increasing muscle development and reducing anxiety and stress.  
    • Encourages Outdoor Play - Playing outside will help to build connections to the environment while also stimulating the senses. Outdoor play can help students discover their place within the natural world while also forming a foundation for important academic concepts, such as biology, geology and physics. 
    • Enhances Creativity - Large play areas and playground structures can stimulate imaginative and creative play. 
    • Builds Social Skills - Building social skills with peers is an important aspect of play spaces.  By providing students with open space to play, students also work on a number of skills such as; communication, cooperation, sharing, empathy, respecting boundaries, and patience. 
    • Increase Academic Performance - Playgrounds include challenging elements that build skill and confidence, which can then translate to school performance. When kids are accustomed to trying new things and challenging themselves, they become more willing to exert themselves in school.
    • Using the Outdoors as Learning Opportunities - School playgrounds provide opportunities for outdoor learning. AT VHE, we will incorporate the outdoors in our lesson plans, especially science. Using the playground during class can help reinforce lessons in science, such as studying the different animals and plants native to the area.  With adequate space, we will also be able to create an outdoor garden space where our students can learn about growing food and the benefits of a healthy diet. 
    • Promotes Empathy & Inclusivity - Not all students in the VHE School Zone have an front or backyard.  Having a larger playground at the school promotes inclusion and provides a place for children from all walks of life to enjoy the benefits of play. During recess, kids engage with different children and can learn about others’ experiences. These skills will help build empathy and encourage them to relate to others as they continue to grow. 
    • Gets Kids Away from Technology - The beauty of an outdoor playground is the ability to get away from technology and the distractions of screens. 
    • Builds Self-Esteem - Challenges like climbing walls, slides and balance elements help build kids’ confidence in their abilities. These feelings can transfer over into other areas of their lives, such as school. 
    • Provide Opportunity for Safe Risk-Taking - Activities like climbing up a wall or hanging from a swinging bar can be challenging for kids, but they can also help to build their tolerance for trying new things they may find scary. It can also build relationships with others through taking risks together and trying new things together.
    • Engages Multiple Senses - Being outside can engage senses that are not practical to engage in a classroom setting. Playing outside can build children’s connection to their senses — new sights, smells, textures and sounds can help build nerve connections in the brain.
    • Promote Community Awareness -  When playing on the playground, kids often have to work together to figure out tasks. They also have the opportunity to cooperate with each other during games and speak with other kids they may not see every day. Playgrounds promote community awareness by helping children build bonds with each other. 
    • Stimulate the Immune System - One surprising benefit of investing in a school playground is that it can help support and grow children’s immune systems. Outdoor playgrounds that incorporate biodiverse elements can significantly affect children’s immune systems. According to studies, playgrounds with natural elements and diverse greenery can strengthen students' immune systems.  Strong immune systems means fewer days absent.
    • Help Children Confront Emotions - Lots of things happen on the playground. Kids can practice their creativity, let their imagination run wild and work with others. However, they might also experience emotions that aren’t necessarily positive — disagreements, jealousy, conflict and anger. When children play with each other, they might not have the same ideas about how they play or what activities they participate in.  When these interactions become tense, it may be tempting to intervene. While it’s important to ensure everyone is safe and okay, navigating tough situations helps children learn how to cope and deal with negative emotions.


Sun Exposure

  • According to the American Academy of Dermatology, research indicates that one in five Americans will develop some form of skin cancer during their lifetime, and five or more sunburns double the risk of developing skin cancer.  Utilizing existing shade (e.g., trees), designing play structures as a means for providing shading (elevated platforms with shaded space below), or creating more shade (man-made structures) are potential ways to design a playground to help protect children's skin from the sun.  

    At VHE we consider the following: 

    • Is sun exposure sufficient to heat exposed bare metal slides, platforms, steps & surfacing enough to burn children? 
      • Children will be at recess during the hottest time of the day.  We recognize the need to find a location for the playground equipment where it is not directly in the sun. 
    • Will children be exposed to the sun during the most intense part of the day? 
      • Groups of children will be exposed to the sun during the most intense part of the day.  Ensuring that students stay hydrated by allowing them to bring their water bottles at recess is important. We will also teach students about the importance of sun safety. 
    • Will children have access to adequate shaded areas?
      • The lower and upper playgrounds (where the portables were once located) do not provide adequate shade.  The APS property located at the corner of Clemont & Green Cove will be fenced in for student and teacher use.  This area is the most shaded area on the VHE campus.  Additionally, the school will look to add shade structures on upper and lower playgrounds to provide additional shaded areas.