Elementary school recess has no teacher-designed objectives, and many school districts throughout the country have abolished recess in favor of more time for academic learning. The schoolyard is notorious for being the place where children are most likely to squabble over equipment, call each other hurtful names, make disgusting faces, and mock, taunt, or bully younger children in order to demonstrate their own superiority. These two major concerns prompt the question, "Should recess remain a feature of a school’s ongoing programming?" Opponents to recess are quick to answer "no." However, many policymakers are unaware of the substantial physical and social changes that recess can provide over time, as the child is promoted to advanced grade levels. According to Rhonda Clements in TC Record, recent research has indicated that physical play increases the growth of the fundamental nervous centers of the brain, thus boosting the child’s mental efficiency. When considering the emotional and social benefits of recess, policymakers also should remember that the schoolyard is a setting for increased group interaction, language development, and emotional growth. This is especially true when the child plays with peers of different ethnic backgrounds, physical abilities, and age groups. Unlike the classroom setting that organizes children according to the same chronological age for learning, the schoolyard allows mixed age groups to interact in a social context. Children can develop an appreciation and tolerance for each other’s differences by sharing cultural games, hand-clapping chants, and other ethnic understandings. Small group games also can foster a child’s self-control, perseverance, and feelings of loyalty. In addition, recess serves as an outlet for releasing stress.

Teachers College Record, Date Published: February 20, 2007 ID Number: 13499, Date Accessed: 6/15/2007 3:52:32 PM