What comes to your mind when you read the word “recess”? Many will recall elementary school days of spending time on a playground with your friends running, jumping, exploring, etc. It was the best part of the day!
Did you know that recess is only mandatory in 3 states and 39 have no recess rules? Early this month, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published a policy statement on this wonderful, unstructured play urging schools NOT to cut recess! The AAP continues to cite research that recess benefits the whole child: cognitively, academically and socially in addition to contributing to their overall physical fitness. A member of the Academy’s committee on home and school health states that recess “offers a unique opportunity for children to experience a break from the academic demands of school and is a forum for creative expression, social engagement and physical exertion.”
The statement goes on to stay that, even though schools feel incredible pressure to fulfill intense academic pursuits (starting at the youngest ages), play breaks actually improve children’s academic performance. Think of how we feel as adults if we are sitting still too long! We lose focus and need to get up and move . . . so do our kids! We all feel better after we get up and move. Our kids need to learn how to be comfortable in their bodies; the ONLY way this is accomplished is through MOVEMENT.
AAP also highlighted these important facts in hopes of starting a movement to Bring Recess Back:
*Recess is a child’s personal time and should not be withheld for academic or punitive reasons.
*Recess should NOT replace physical education.
*Academic success depends on regular breaks for both children and adolescents. These breaks should be built into the school day. Studies have shown that, in order for children to learn well, a child needs a break after a period of concentrated academic activity in order to process the information.
*Lifelong social skills—communication, negotiation, cooperation, sharing, problem solving and coping—are developed during recess. These are fundamental skills children should develop at school!
What is recess like at your child’s school? As schools continue to try and find the delicate balance between academic pursuits and “recess”, consider how knowledge of this information could help you and your family, especially as kids are laden with more homework! Try scheduling breaks during homework time or even incorporating movement into the lesson. You may find homework time and the amount of tears shed decrease!
Play On . . .