Mother pushing to extend recess at Prince William County Public Schools

- A Virginia mother is on a mission to extend recess in elementary schools all across the D.C. region, starting with her own area in Prince William County. Right now, some schools have as little as a 15-minute recess for young students. While that is the bare minimum required by law, many say it's not enough.

Barbara Larrimore is seeking to change that by extending recess to at least 30 minutes at all elementary schools in Prince William County.

“I would say 95 percent agree that we need to go back to what we were doing in the 60s and 70s and giving the kids recess after lunch and giving them enough time to be kids,” she said.

Larrimore has created a petition in hopes of generating more physical activity for the children in Prince William County Public Schools.

“My petition is for more recess and physical education for elementary school kids,” she said. “It started with my [son back when he was attending kindergarten], he started coming home with holes in his sleeves and in his collars. He had developed a nervous habit of chewing his clothes so vehemently that there were holes all over them and I couldn't really figure it out at first.”

Larrimore said the nervous behavior was a first and it took her a few years to figure it all out.

“Once I realized that people in Fairfax County were getting three [physical education classes] a week and 30-minute recesses and there were other places in Prince William County who actually have better PE and recess policies than what we have at Lake Ridge [Elementary School], I just realized there was more than we could be doing for our kids in terms of movement and play,” said Larrimore.

She has three children – two attend Lake Ridge Elementary School where students have 15 minutes of recess daily and one to two physical education classes weekly.

“They are doing the bare minimum at Lake Ridge now,” said Larrimore. “I'm building a group of moms who are interested in supporting the cause and we are going to be talking about what we are going to do.”

Prince William County Public Schools spokesperson Irene Cromer said state law requires at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week and time can be split between physical education classes and recess.

Larrimore said that is not enough.

However, Elijah Barnes, another school parent, said school needs to be about classroom instruction.

“Kids need more education,” he said. “As far as the kids' point of view, of course they want more recess. But as far as a parent, 15 minutes should be long enough.”

Even so, Larrimore is charging ahead and her change.org petition is gaining momentum and mentions.

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