Kids need recess. Period. Recess is one of the things in education that seems to be continuously cut in favor of more content teaching and testing. A lot of the fun of learning has been slowly squeezed out of schools and now, when students need the break more than ever, there just doesn’t seem to be enough time for recess.
Kids need recess because…
1. Kids work really hard and need breaks – plural!
School is really hard work these days. Students, even in preschool and kindergarten, are expected to learn so much content so much faster. There is a lot of pressure put on today’s children with testing. School is a lot more academic right away than it used to be. Kids NEED that break – that moment to go outside and be a kid and be carefree. Kids aren’t meant to work for hours and hours at a time. They will be so much more refreshed and able to concentrate when they come back inside if they get adequate breaks.
2. Recess teaches valuable social skills.
Learning how to share and be a good friend is just as important as any math skill, in my opinion. There are SO many social and life skills that playing at recess teaches.
By the way, here’s a great list of books BY social skill to read aloud to help teach them to kids: Fun Books to Read Aloud Sorted by Behavior
3. Recess gives kids a safe place to run and play.
Recess might be the only time that day that kid gets to play outside, breathe fresh air, run on their little legs, and be around children their own age.
Some kids don’t have a safe place to play at home. Especially in rougher neighborhoods, kids may not have a place they can play outside. They may live in an apartment or similar dwelling with no yard. Unless their parents take them to a park, they don’t get grass and fresh air and playground equipment to develop their motor skills with. I doubt many parents can take their child to the park every day… and if their parents can and do, what are the chances they’ll have the same social opportunities with other kids that are at their level? School is such a great opportunity for children to interact with their peers.
4. Exercise is healthy.
Children are frighteningly sedentary these days. With the explosion of technology, so many kids are not playing outside anymore… at all. Many are inside playing on their tablets, computers, or watching TV. When I was little, we got out of school and immediately ran to a friends’ house and played in their yard, climbed trees, rode bikes, went rollerblading, and made up our own games. These things are building gross motor skills and helping little developing bodies build strength and important skills.
5. They need UNSTRUCTURED play.
Play should be unstructured. Even if every lesson in school is engaging and fun, they still need PLAY that is unstructured. Not planned by an adult. Not on a lesson plan with a specific skill to learn as a result. At recess when I was in school, we used our imaginations to create our own games and activities. It seemed like play but it was real learning, not to mention learning how to collaborate with others and grow our social skills. Yes, they might be playing learning apps on their tablet or “playing” to learn a specific skill, but nothing can replace those meaningful, real world experiences from unstructured play that foster creativity where kids can explore and expand their thinking on a higher level.
6. Adequate recess helps prevent misbehavior.
I personally believe that a lot of misbehavior stems from kids just needing to get their energy out. If they could just get all their energy out in a fun, positive way, they’d be much happier. Happy kids make happy students. Happy students will most likely behave better and thus learn more. Seems pretty simple. 🙂
Flexible seating IN the classroom is also really important for helping kids get the movement they need during the day.
7. Kids should enjoy coming to school.
I want all students to be lifelong learners and excited to learn. If they’re not excited to come to school, they’re probably not that excited to learn either and it’s just a negative experience all around. I want all kids to see school as a happy, fun place where they can learn and grow. What kid doesn’t love recess? The more positive experiences a child has in school, the more favorably they’ll view school and actually want to come each day.
8. They need recess so their teachers can have a break too.
Students will probably get a much higher quality education if their teacher has adequate time to plan fun, engaging lessons and isn’t feeling frazzled all the time. “Planning time” is too often filled with meetings that most teachers are happy if they can manage to make copies, pee, and eat their lunch all in one day. Teachers work so hard and they need a break too.
What it all comes down to, I think, is that kids should get to be kids. I mean, they’re kids!
If you’re a teacher, do you feel like your students get enough recess? If you’re a parent, do you feel like your child gets enough recess? Do you have anything to add to this list? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
I make a ton of lists! Check these out:
Best Books by Behavior (great for teaching specific behaviors like tattling, sharing, etc.!)