The Importance of Recess in a Child’s School Day

Study of the importance of recess in a child’s school day from the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics). School recess policies and free time activities not related to a structured gym class vary from school district to district and have changed with the times since this generations’ parents attended elementary school. The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) has released a statement regarding the importance of school recess in regard to learning and social behavior.

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When I attended elementary school our school recesses were designed for unstructured outdoor play (or indoor play depending on the weather). Often school recess was treated as a bonus and the privilege could be revoked depending on the school day’s schedule or even taken away by the teacher due to poor classroom behavior.

So what about the importance of recess in a child’s school day?

The American Academy of Pediatrics has released the statement (below) regarding the importance of free play time or recess during the school day. It might be a good idea to talk to your children’s school or look into their recess policy to see how their school recess operates and if the recommendations fit the AAP’s guidelines.

The Importance of Recess

AAP CONSIDERS RECESS A NECESSARY BREAK FROM THE DEMANDS OF SCHOOL

Both recess and physical education in schools promote activity and a healthy lifestyle, and should be a daily break for young children and adolescents. A new policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), “The Crucial Role of Recess in Schools,” published in the January 2013 issue of Pediatrics and released online. Safe and properly supervised recess offers children cognitive, physical, emotional and social benefits. It should be used as a complement to physical education classes, not a substitute, and whether it’s spent indoors or outdoors, recess should provide free, unstructured play or activity. The AAP recommends that recess should never be withheld as a punishment, as it serves as a fundamental component of development and social interaction that students may not receive in a more complex school environment. Study authors conclude that minimizing or eliminating recess can negatively affect academic achievement, as growing evidence links recess to improved physical health, social skills and cognitive development.

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For more on the importance of recess in a child’s school day, visit aap.org.

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