I remember being in school and the teacher calling this out to us in the lunchroom or class. It meant (hooray!) it was time to get outside and get all our wiggles out. Recess means a break from having to sit in one place, use our brains intensely and not having to listen closely to a teacher. It meant fun, movement and a sort of freedom from the monotony of the school day. What we didn't know at the time was that our brains and bodies needed a reset button. Recess was not a reward, but rather a reserved time just like art, math or lunch. In our current test-driven educational environment, not only is recess in jeopardy, but it's value has been called into question. Recess is not a privilege for kids who are well behaved or get good grades. Research has shown it to be essential to your child's development.
Recess in recent years has been limited and even cancelled. Schools are feeling stress to improve kids' grades and test scores and the more time spent in the classroom, in their opinion, the better. Leading educators have been calling this into question more and more in recent years, citing many studies that say that by doing so, we are putting the health of kids at risk.
Research has yet to prove that removing recess with raise test scores, but the following benefits have been proven for kids. Kids who have recess:
- Are less fidgety and more on task
- Have improved memory and more focused attention
- Develop more brain connections
- Learn negotiation skills
- Exercise leadership, teach games, take turns, and learn to resolve conflicts
The American Academy of Pediatrics put out a policy statement in 2013 advocating for the "Crucial Role of Recess" in the development of children. It is required reading for parents and educators alike. The paper discusses the cognitive, physical and social benefits of recess in great detail. In addition, it states that the removal of recess should NEVER be used as punishment.
What can you as a parent do? The excellent website Peaceful Playgrounds provides handouts, guides and presentations which are easy to download and offer lots of other resources too. Together, we can take back recess!