File this one under common-sense decisions we can get behind. A recent ruling in Utah has made recess count as instructional time. Now we’re wondering when other states will follow suit.

Why does this decision matter?

Most states require a certain number of instructional hours over a minimum number of school days. In Utah, it’s 990 hours over 180 days. But in many states, instructional hours doesn’t include breaks like recess or lunch. 

With the pressures schools face to increase test scores, that means many schools have made decisions to cut back on recess to meet their minimums of reading and math.

But recess is learning, and we can’t sacrifice it.

The research is clear. Play is fundamentally important to kids’ academic and emotional well-being. When recess doesn’t count as instructional time, we’re sending the message that it isn’t valuable to children’s school experience, and that kids aren’t learning during that time. But science says otherwise.

That Awkward Moment When You Have 5 Minutes Left of Class and No Idea What to Do…

That’s why we’re applauding Utah’s decision, and we hope that other states follow suit.

By counting recess as instructional time, Utah is helping educators avoid impossible trade-offs. Kids need recess. They need time in the classroom learning reading and math. Play is a fundamental part of both, and so is learning.