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Advocates call recess a crucial part of education

Fourth-grader Juan Taylor wound up for the throw during recess for students from Eliot School in the North End. –David L Ryan/Globe Staff

For years, as standardized tests took on ever greater importance in Massachusetts public schools, recess seemed to pay the price, shrinking or even disappearing in some communities. But now, with an increased focus on kids’ social and emotional development, there is a concerted effort to revive the tradition.

Across the state, a growing number of schools are tapping recess not only to encourage students to be more active but also to teach them a host of skills, such as how to get along with their peers, control their emotions, and take leadership roles.

Many school systems, from Brookline to Medway, are expanding recess or are exploring the idea in response to growing concerns about increased anxiety, stress, and depression among students, while the Legislature is pondering a bill that would require 20-minute recesses at all elementary schools.

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