Aug. 3, 2021

State Lawmaker Working to Preserve Play and Recess

Pre-kindergarten students play on the playground at Positive Tomorrows, a private elementary school for homeless students in Oklahoma City. (Whitney Bryen/Oklahoma Watch)

Hello readers. State Rep. Jacob Rosecrants, D-Norman, has been on a mission to preserve time for play in schools. This year, his three year effort to pass the state’s Play to Learn Act paid off and the bill was signed into law.

The legislation empowers teachers to teach the way they were taught to teach – through play, he said. Under the new law, which received broad bipartisan support, teachers in grades pre-kindergarten through 3rd are encouraged (but not required) to let children learn through play. And, more significantly, school districts can’t prohibit this type of teaching.

Now, Rosecrants, who’s also an administrator for the Oklahoma Play-Based Learning Initiative Facebook group, has turned his attention to recess.

Rosecrants is holding an interim study to look at how more, or more frequent, recess leads to better academic outcomes and reduces behavior issues. The speakers include a play therapist, an elementary school counselor, a superintendent, a recess expert and an assistant professor.

An interim study is an informal presentation at the state Capitol held between legislative sessions, and they are a good indication of the topics lawmakers will later address through legislation. A date for the recess study isn’t set but Rosecrants said it will likely be in early October (here’s the full list of interim studies for the House and Senate.)

And while the recess study will likely focus on elementary-aged students, Rosecrants told me he’d love to include middle school students since they, too, benefit from recess but are less likely to receive it.

Rosecrants was a classroom teacher prior to being elected in 2017.

As always, email and DMs open for suggestions, comments and story tips. Have a great week.

— Jennifer Palmer

What I’m Reading

  • Parents worried about back-to-school with COVID-19 on the rise. [The Oklahoman]
  • Will anxious families return to in-person school? [NPR]
  • Oklahoma House Democrats have called for a special session to repeal mask law. [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Study looks at whether the pandemic will drive teachers out of the classroom. [Education Week]

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