Is 20 minutes enough recess time for elementary school students?

BEAVERTON, Ore. - Twenty minutes a day.

That's the amount of recess time students in Beaverton schools get over a seven-hour school day. Parent Angela Jaensch said she's upset at the reduced recess time, as are several other parents, who point out their kids are too restless to focus on learning.

Jaensch said her daughter is "bouncing off the walls" once school is over.

"My biggest concern is that she is sitting in a classroom and being told to sit still and pay attention. And if she's got all of this bound up energy that she's not able to release that there's not going to be that much attention or focus," she said.

School officials say that 20 minutes before or after lunchtime is standard at all Beaverton schools and that there isn't more time to give.

Increasing state curriculum requirements require more instruction time in the classroom. It also forces teachers to be more creative when it comes to keeping students active.

"Our teachers in the classroom aren't just having students sit at a desk nonstop for the whole school day," said Beaverton Schools spokeswoman Maureen Wheeler. "They're moving from lesson to lesson. They may be getting students up. It's very active learning."

District officials also pointed out that students have time to let off steam during P.E. classes. Still, that's not every day - sometimes just about once a week.

In Portland classrooms, students get even less recess time. While the amount of time is up to each principal, classrooms in Portland Public Schools average between 15 and 20 minutes per day of free time.

Grade-school students in the Southeast get the least amount of time, with an average of 19 minutes.

Vancouver schools allow for the most recess time in the metro area, with between 30 and 45 minutes each day. Also, some younger kids get a third recess.

The national average for elementary school kids is about 26 minutes per day, although that varies from grade to grade.