If you ask young students what their favorite course in school is, many will enthusiastically respond with “recess!” Unfortunately, many schools have found themselves cutting recess in the past decade due to budget cutbacks and the focus on academic standardized test scores. Studies in recent years, however, have shown just how important play and recess are to physical, social, emotional, and intellectual development. The following outlines some of the massive benefits that recess has proven to have on students who participate in it.
Perhaps the most obvious benefit of recess is its correlation to improvements in physical health. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests sixty minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per day and recess allots an opportunity to get some of this exercise in during the school day. Even if a child’s choice in recess play is not super active, it will still counter act the sedimentary time spent in the classroom or in less lively after school activities. In addition, having this designated time to play has a positive effect on balance and motor skills.
Stress Relief Benefits
Unstructured playtime like recess is shown to relieve stress, which can a have negative impact on both learning and health. This time is an escape from the expectations and structure that come with the classroom environment. It gives children the opportunity to expend excess energy in a healthy, non disruptive way.
Recess also provides children with a time to interact and play with peers. Through typical recess games, children are able to role play and practice skills including negotiation, cooperation, sharing, and problem solving. They can also practice coping skills, such as perseverance and self-control. Recess provides the right balance of supervision and freedom to allow children to learn these skills, which will be highly beneficial to them for the rest of their lives.
There is a lot of research that demonstrates that recess, performed indoors or outdoors, makes children more attentive and productive in the classroom. The research shows that children learn best when given breaks after a period of concentrated instruction. Recess serves as a down time that can keep children from getting overwhelmed and help them better focus when they return to the classroom.
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I like that you pointed out with recess, kids learn how to socialize with others their age. Growing up, I loved playing on the playground at recess where I could play with my friends. It’s a great place to learn to interact in an acceptable way with peers and can teach you a lot of life lessons.