More play time coming for Frisco ISD elementary students as part of 2019-20 pilot program

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Correction: The original version of this story misspelled Alyse Leininger’s name.

Frisco ISD elementary students will get an extra 10 to 15 minutes of play time in the upcoming school year.

As part of a pilot program, all 42 FISD elementary campuses will schedule extra time within the school day to allow students to exercise their bodies and their brains, according to Christy Fiori, managing director of elementary schools, who presented the program to the board of trustees on June 10.

The so-called structured brain breaks would last for about 10-15 minutes and be in addition to the traditional 30-minute recess. The total play time will be divided into periods best suited to each school. Fiori said brain breaks may be taken outdoors as appropriate.

Data collected on the effect of the pilot program will be reviewed at the end of the school year by the Elementary Scheduling Committee, Fiori said.

The year-long pilot program comes after a smaller test run at five FISD elementary schools during the past school year. Frisco Parents for Recess, a group started by parent Angela Dunford, pushed for the 2018-2019 pilot.

Dunford started Frisco Parents for Recess in April 2018. She first became interested in the additional recess for children when her oldest son began kindergarten. Dunford said she was shocked to see one recess on her son’s schedule.

The mother of three said she was part of the FISD School Health Advisory Council that analyzed data from the five-school pilot. She said the results were “overwhelming,” especially when comparing data from five non-pilot schools.

“Way more teachers at the pilot schools were saying ‘Our kids are more on-task this year than they were at this same point last year,’” Dunford said. “Non-pilot schools were twice as likely to say that they felt they were behind in the curriculum compared to where they were last year.”

Alyse Leininger’s 6-year-old son was not at a school that participated in the 2018-2019 pilot. This past school year, she said her son could not say what he learned in his kindergarten math class. She said he talked about the game of chase he played at recess instead.

“I think it’s going to be really beneficial, especially for the younger kids who are still adjusting to school, and it will help them,” Leininger said. “Extra play time helps them in every way: academically, emotionally, socially, physically, everything.”

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