To some, recess may seem frivolous. There are those that look at playtime during school hours as taking away from the need to generate strong reading skills or help kids achieve success in mathematics. The truth is, kids need recess to achieve.
Strong reading skills are vital. Math skills are imperative. Losing site of the benefits of unstructured playtime can be catastrophic.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently had this to say about the value recess plays in developing well-educated kids.
Optimal cognitive processing in a child necessitates a period of interruption after a period of concentrated instruction. The benefits of these interruptions are best served by unstructured breaks rather than by merely shifting from cognitive task to another to diminish stresses and distractions that interfere with cognitive processing. Several studies demonstrated that recess, whether performed indoors or outdoors, made children more attentive and more productive in the classroom.
The role of unstructured breaks, i.e. recess, in the school day, particularly for elementary aged students, is one that can play a critical part in whether or not our kids can maintain focus and achieve results from their academic studies throughout each day.
It’s not just the American Academy of Pediatrics who are saying this either. An elementary school in Texas has tripled the amount of time students get for recess to include a full hour each school day dedicated to unstructured play. Recess is held in four, fifteen minute blocks.
Teachers have taken notice of the positive impact this has had on their students throughout the day. They say that students are less distracted in the classroom and there has been an improvement in behavior as well, whether it’s students making more eye contact or being generally more empathetic toward their peers.
Through academic research and real-world example, it is clear that recess is a critical component to the achievement of students in elementary grades. Then of course there is the additional benefit of kids getting healthier from all that running around.
What do you think? Share your thoughts on recess in school in the comments below.