Numerous studies highlight the importance of free, unstructured play in the healthy development of children. In Finland, students have a 15 minute recess break after every 45 minutes of academic instruction and their students rank at the top academically.
Yet more and more schools in the U.S. have moved away from permitting regular recess for their elementary and middle school students in an attempt to gain more instructional time in math and language arts. This strategy is not in sync with the developmental needs of children and actually backfires, making it harder for children to learn when they are prevented from their natural need to move, play and explore on a regular basis.
My proposal is that all schools should be mandated to include a minimum number of minutes of free-play recess (this is different from a structured PE class) every day.
My own school has increased recess time (we increased the school day accordingly) and it has made a world of difference in learning outcomes as well as significantly decreased behavior issues.