Finally, recess is getting the recognition it deserves. The popular play period recently gained some widespread attention after it was found to deliver a whole lot more to kids than just physical exercise.
In a new policy statement appearing in the journal Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) highlighted the impact of unstructured play time and determined that recess provides children with “cognitive, emotional and social benefits.”
Daniel Kohen, M.D., director of the Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics Program at the University of Minnesota, examined the new policy statement and described how learning at recess differs from the classroom. According to Kohen, recess provides:
- Spontaneous conversation with friends, including sharing stories or making plans for play outside of school.
- Learning the social rules of playing as a team or creating a new game as a group.
- Negotiating what to play, choosing teams and applying rules.
- Option for solitude, allowing kids to run laps alone, read a book, or simply decompress alone.
Different from gym
Often, recess and gym class are lumped together because of the similar attributes and perceived goals in the periods. However, when broken down, the two are fundamentally different.
Gym class offers a chance for kids to run around and increase their heart rates, but it is a structured class period with expectations from instructors. Recess, on the other hand, allows children the freedom to make their own choices, explore social abilities and build meaningful friendships.
“Recess time affords peer interaction that simply cannot occur in the same way or to the same degree as even the most enlightened and creative of classrooms,” said Kohen.
As Health Talk has previously reported, recess can also help with more than just social skills. Schools with good opportunities for physical activity and socializing allow students to boost concentration to focus more on schoolwork.
“Recess is an essential ingredient in the experience we expect and desire for our children’s education,” said Kohen.
Hopefully, this new statement from the AAP will help keep children outside playing.