Veronica Adams, MAT
Well before Covid-19 complicated how schools will have to orchestrate all activities this coming Fall with respect to safe practices, there was already an unfortunate trend toward reducing or eliminating altogether recess for elementary school children during the school day.
Many factors played into decisions of some school districts to eliminate recess in favor of increased academics including safety concerns, national and state-mandated tests, and withholding recess for punitive reasons.
But unstructured recess yields many benefits including providing students an opportunity to:
- utilize social skills learned in the classroom
- engage in self-regulated social interactions in which they become aware of acceptable and non-acceptable behavior
- discover their body’s capabilities
- explore their environment
- create new and original forms of play independent of canned computerized games
- reduce stress and anxiety and blow off steam so that they can more easily settle down when they return to the classroom
- counterbalance sedentary time in the classroom and accrue to the daily 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity strongly recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) policy which lowers the risk of obesity
An overabundance of research indicates that physical activity and recess improves academic achievement. And in addition to recess, The Council on Physical Education for Children (2001) states that recess should not replace Physical Education, an academic class.
If we are to raise healthy, well-rounded individuals that lead healthy lifestyles as adults, we must honor and respect the opportunity to give children the skills they need. Recess is a necessary break in the day for students to mentally decompress and allow time to develop social, physical, emotional, and cognitive skills.
In the words of Fred Rogers “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.”
To learn more about the importance of recess, consider reading the book:
RECESS: ITS ROLE IN EDUCATION AND DEVELOPMENT by Anthony D. Pellegrini
Veronica Adams, MAT, is a Physical Education (PE) Teacher in Windsor, Colorado, with 20 years of teaching experience and a Masters degree in Physical Education and Physical Activity Leadership.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”