As kids, the major part of the day looking forward to is the recess when they are free to play around with friends from other class. You may ask why kids need recess. The reason is simple. Recess helps in cognitive, physical, emotional and social development of the child. For this reason, not allowing a child to enjoy the recess as a form of punishment for misbehaving or poor academic performance is not acceptable. Kids of this generation are very structured, which does not leave them to enjoy creative playing available during recess. Recess helps in the overall development as well. One important thing to bear in mind is that recess should not be treated as the substitute to physical education but a complement instead.

Why Do Kids Need Recess?

Recess is a very important part of the school, as much as other regular classes. This becomes very essential as child uses all the senses at once to learn and interact with their peers while playing around with other kids. Playing involves learning by utilizing the mind, body and spirit as opposed to the structured form of play which involves just sight.

1. Enhance Social Development

The things that we learn in childhood are best learnt. Humans are social in nature, it is necessary that socializing is something that is learned during childhood. During school hours, children are asked to remain quiet and pay attention in class. After school, the kids do not spend time playing in the neighborhood as the previous generations used to. This leaves the recess as the most important time to socialize and have unstructured play time. Interacting, communication and socializing with kids of the same age group during recess helps children learn and grow, which is exactly why kids need recess.

2. Develop Physical Health

Recess is the time when children get to move out of the classrooms and get involved in outdoor physical activity. Playing involves lot of movement and physical skills which helps in maintaining optimal health. Children, who are active in school, remain physically active throughout the day. This helps in fighting obesity and maintaining healthy weight. Playing in natural sunlight helps in the synthesis of Vitamin D, which is essential for calcium absorption and also known to increase academic learning and productivity. It also stimulates the pineal gland which is vital to the immune system and regulates our biological clock.

3. Beneficial for the Brain

Increased physical activity stimulates the brain and increases the number and capacity of blood vessels in the brain. This results in increased supply of oxygen, water and glucose to the brain which in turn optimizes the performance of the brain. Research has proved that brain activity is increased during physical activity rather than when sedentary. Physically active children perform better academically, get higher scores and their overall attitude towards school is also improved. Recess helps the children get all the essential dose of daily physical activity.

4. Assist in Pressure Coping

Children get to behave in a boisterous, loud and messy way during the outdoor recess which they are usually dissuaded from indoors. Physical activity helps in reducing stress which has a negative impact on learning and health. Unstructured learning is helpful for children who are considered hyperactive by letting them expend their energy in a healthy manner.

5. Improve Focus

Let's look at a case to know better about why kids need recess. A study was conducted by Dr. Olga Jarrett in a school which had no recess policy. Here they started having recess for 2 fourth-grade classes once a week and observed the behavior of the children on days with and without recess. The children became more on-task, worked more and were less fidgety on the days they had recess. This showed that recess helped to actually improve the focus and attention span in the kids.

6. Boost Efficiency

It has been proved that children learn better when learning is distributed and includes breaks. Learning conducted in long stretches is not very effective as children are unable to process all the information. This is especially critical in younger children whose nervous system is not as mature and who are not as experienced as older kids. Breaks which involve unstructured play are more beneficial in the learning process and helps in boosting efficiency.

How Can You Help to Promote Recess?

Academic learning is being given a lot of importance and recess is at the receiving end in many schools. Some schools even withhold recess time as a form of punishment. Some parents are protesting schools’ withholding of recess for student misbehavior. However, there are things you need to know when fighting for your kid’s recess.

1. Do Some Research

There is already a lot of research done regarding the importance of recess on the overall development of kids. A lot of websites provide this information and there are groups which help to promote recess as well. Interacting with such groups will be beneficial in advocating the benefits of recess.

2. Reason with the Higher-Ups

Talking and interacting with the school principal to retain recess breaks should be a good start. It would also be beneficial to interact with school board or other higher authorities to change school policies. A change in policy can help in making a system-wide reform.

3. Ask Questions and Join Other Parents

Even with all the researches done about why kids need recess and the importance of recess, a lot of schools still continue to not have recess. It is very important that the parents get together to deal and change this situation in schools. Asking other parents about the experiences of their children, asking the school teachers about the recess lengths and also asking children about what happens during recess would help in getting some answers.

4. Questions to Ask School Supervisors

Questions like who is responsible for recess supervision, the qualifications of these supervisors, the equipment used during recess and if outdoor and indoor area is utilized adequately during recess can be asked when visiting school authorities.