Recess: It's Role in Behavior and Academics

Contributed by JC Boushh

A 2009 study by Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University researchers published in Pediatrics links recess with better behavior and increases in student’s ability to learn. The study looked at approximately 11,000 third grade boy and girl students, who were enrolled in the National Early Childhood Longitudinal Study. What researchers found was that children who had more than 15 minutes a day of unstructured free-play actually performed better in class and had fewer instances of disciplinary problems compared to students who had less than 15 min or no recess at all.

Recess is vital for children not only physically, but it is also important cognitively and socially. Dr. Barros one of the coauthors of the recess study states, “When we restructure our education system, we have to think about the important role of recess in childhood development,”.

Here are a few helpful ideas on how to advocate for recess at your school.

· Sign-up for the Play Nice! Newsletter. A great way to keep informed about the Recess Movement.

· Print out and distribute some of the published research on the benefits of Recess for all students.

· And most importantly have a Playful mentality. Play is not only vital for children, it is also vital for healthy and happy adults.

When we think about recess we need to realize that is more than just frivolous entertainment. Recess offers children rich experiences, vigorous physical activity, opportunities to master fine and gross motor skills, and allows children to master their social skills with their peers. With many children’s vigorous schedules and the increase in urban environments recess may offer some of the only choices for spontaneous free-play. With the continuing epidemic of childhood diseases linked to child obesity and sedentary lifestyles recess allows children not only the opportunity for better physical health, but are also be key to mental health and better learning.