Recess is just as important to a student's day as any academic subject. Two of the reasons for this are that children need to exercise and children need to learn how to "play" with their peers.
Recess is one of the few active, unstructured times in your child's academic day. It is imperative that children are given this time to run around, blow off steam and get regular exercise. In a time when obesity is a huge problem, exercise is key. Data from a study sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education shows that recess, "While it can not cure obesity on its own, can contribute to promoting the habit of an active lifestyle." Regular recess time gives children a chance to have that, as well as fresh air and sunshine, a must for all growing kids!
Unstructured, active time is not only important for the student but also for the teacher and the rest of the class.
Sitting still and focusing can be very difficult for a child who has not had the chance to run around and use his muscles. When recess is taken away for discipline, it can backfire leaving a child who is even more disruptive and a teacher who has their hands full. The American Academy of Pediatrics began research on the effects of recess in 2007. They found, "Recess allows children to come back to their classrooms ready to learn and less fidgety."
Recess is also the time when children, no matter what their grade, learn many valuable lessons on how to negotiate and foster friendships. It is a time when children experience the freedom to develop positive negotiating skills, figure out how to get along with and advocate for themselves and their friends.
The seemingly simple recess game of Four Square has taught my fourth grader the valuable lessons of negotiating, being a positive friend, working on a team and leading as well as following.
These lessons are just as important as any that are taught in the classroom!