Let us out! (Photo by Shutterstock.)

If you were still watching cartoons at the turn of the millennium (guilty), you may remember a delightful series called Recess, which chronicled the adventures of a group of fourth-graders during that most hallowed time of the school day. For TJ, his friends, and the rest of their schoolmates, the recess bell signaled a transition from the world of grown-ups to one ruled by kids, where the playground was their empire and a sixth-grader called King Bob governed from the top of the jungle gym. Epic battles and campaigns could be waged and won within one 22-minute episode, just as, in real life, those few minutes of recess were time enough to break hearts or body parts.

In recent years, though, a return to school hasn’t necessarily meant resuming the recess routine. Not only do kids these days get a scant amount of daily rigorous activity (which decreases as they get older, studies show), but schools now skimp on recess time to focus on standardized-test prep.