Kids have been back in the classroom for more than a month now in Kentucky.

Up in Massachusetts, where school starts a little bit later, there's a bill in the legislature to require all public school students in kindergarten through fifth grade to get "at least 20 consecutive minutes" of "supervised, safe and unstructured free-play recess" each day.

Backers say children benefit socially and physically from unstructured recess, The Associated Press reported.

Heck, give them the full half hour.

I'm all for recess.

I have fond memories of the playgrounds of 60-plus years ago.

Yeah, kids got hurt.

They jumped out of swings high in the air.

They got knocked off merry-go-rounds.

And those metal sliding boards were rough on hot days.

But it was fun.

And outdoor fun is something kids need more of.

Especially these days.

Kids are going to school as early as 3 years old these days.

And childhood is slipping away, never to be recaptured.

Yes, I understand the importance of education.

We have to educate children so they can be competitive in the world we live in.

But I hear about 5-year-olds who are too informed to believe in Santa Claus.

And I think about what they -- and their parents -- are missing.

Everything these days seems to be geared toward structured activities for kids.

But kids need time to run free with their friends for at least a few minutes each day.

So many kids will never know what it was like to run home, toss your books on the bed and then run outside to play without rules, guidelines or adult supervision.

We'll never have that much energy, that much curiosity again.

Childhood has become impractical in our practical world.

It's time we gave it another chance.

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301, klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com

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