Kids need more recess time

Recess TimeThe research is clear. Children need recess. It benefits every aspect of childhood development—physical development, of course, but also social, emotional and intellectual development as well. Following are seven reasons why, if we want our children to succeed, recess should be increased:

  1. Research dating back to the late 1800s indicates that people learn better and faster when their efforts are distributed, rather than concentrated. That is, work that includes breaks and down time proves more effective than working in long stretches.
  2. Natural light improves wellness. Sunlight stimulates the pineal gland, which is the part of the brain that helps regulate our biological clock. It is vital to the immune system, and simply makes us feel better. Outside light also triggers the synthesis of vitamin D, which a number of studies have demonstrated increases academic learning and productivity.
  3. Recess reduces stress. For many children, especially those considered “hyperactive,” recess is an opportunity to expend energy in a healthy, suitable manner. Outside, children can engage in behavior—loud, messy and boisterous—considered unacceptable indoors.
  4. Recess develops social skills. Recess may be the only time during the day when children have an opportunity to experience socialization and real communication. Children don’t engage in the neighborhood play of earlier generations, so once the school day ends, there may be little chance for unstructured, natural social development. After all, in class children generally are not encouraged to socialize, but rather are expected to conform and remain quiet. Some school policies even go so far as to prevent children from talking to one another during lunch. How can children with so few opportunities to socialize and communicate be expected to live and work together in harmony as adults? When and where will they learn how?
  5. Exercise is healthy. Many children suffer from obesity, but even children at healthy weight levels benefit from physical activity, and in fact require it for optimal health. The outdoors is the best place for children to burn calories, practice emerging physical skills and experience the pure joy of movement. Research has even shown that children who are physically active in school are more likely to be physically active at home, and children who don’t have the opportunity to be active during the school day don’t usually compensate during after-school hours. Physical activity feeds the brain.

Where do the children play?