Benefits of Recess in Middle and Elementary School

By: Dave Byknish Email
By: Dave Byknish Email

WAYNESBORO, Va. -- For the first time ever, the American Academy of Pediatrics is taking a stance on the issue of recess. Leaders of the group said recess is necessary to the growth of children. If they don't get that break during the day, their adult lives could be in major jeopardy.

“Without that exposure, whether it's just teaching to a test, we may be creating people who are, and children who are good at taking tests, but they can't think on their own,” said Pete Devries, a pediatrician at Valley Pediatrics.

Apart from the inherent health benefits that come with playtime, for younger children, there are many benefits. One of those benefits comes from the type of interaction children get during this time. An increased focus on technology has cut off many forms of face to face interaction, but recess is one of the few times kids can learn those skills.

“You're kind of on your own and learning with interaction, socially with other children and solving problems on a play environment. There is stimulation of multiple senses at that time is critical.”

Most schools limit the time students actually get out to play. A need for higher test scores means more time in the classroom.

“The core curriculum standards are what get schools funding. You know, money talks and that's what's going to get the important hand,” said Physical Educator at Berkeley Glenn Elementary Michael Freeman.

The new findings show that an unstructured recess may actually improve learning in the classroom. This type of recess has been shown to boost cognitive functions.

“If you believe that that's going to help your students achieve more, then, of course you'd want to fight for that for your kids to achieve more in the classroom.”

Pediatricians said that recess not only helps a child learn to be more creative, but it can also help with attention spans. More time outside during the school day may help with ADHD symptoms because students have been shown to be more focused after recess.


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