A bill being proposed in the New York State Senate would require that elementary school students get daily playtime of at least 30 minutes a day. The legislation would also prevent teachers from withholding the playtime as punishments when children misbehave during class.
The bill has been introduced by State Senator James Skoufis, a Democrat from Orange County. He cited research showing that children need regular periods of unstructured physical play to improve their health and well-being. According to Skoufis, ten other states currently mandate playtime.
“Every student, regardless of their school’s location or resources, deserves access to regular outdoor playtime,” said Skoufis. “Recess breeds discovery, improved social skills, and physical and mental health benefits, not to mention strides in the classroom. This kind of unstructured play is critical for early childhood development, and we must do all we can to support New York’s youngest residents as they grow.”
Skoufis has also advocated for universal pre-kindergarten statewide. Three years ago, he led the effort to secure first-time expansion of universal pre-k beyond New York City, and has since secured funding for over 2,650 new slots in Orange County. In 2018, he secured aid for Washingtonville and other half-day kindergarten school districts that enabled a successful transition to full-day programs for five year olds.