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Five Reasons to Save Recess

EducationWorld is pleased to present this article contributed by Andy McAnelly, a student at Heritage High School in Saginaw, MI.

Recess is a time when kids can connect with friends, make new friends and counteract the stress of classroom learning, but this coveted playtime is disappearing from American schools.

Despite the push for more instructional time, the benefits of recess make it worth preserving. The key skills and traits strengthened by recess will continue to serve children in the workplace and throughout their lives.

Here are five key ones:

  1. Creativity
    Unstructured playtime gives students an opportunity to be creative. Creativity stimulates a young mind and can lead a youth to seek out challenges and engage in a process of discovery. One example is a child building with blocks. If a child displays interest or pleasure in this activity, it could lead him or her to explor a career as an architect.  
  2. Perseverance
    Most can remember their first encounter with the monkey bars. This obstacle is difficult to master on the first try, but as the desire to overcome an obstacle increases, perseverance develops. Children will use perseverance throughout their lives to overcome life’s challenges.
  3. Critical Thinking
    When youth play, they experiment and draw conclusions. For example, a child may notice that dribbling a ball on the grass isn’t as effective as dribbling it on the blacktop. She might wonder why this happens and use critical thinking to draw a conclusion. These critical thinking skills are extremely important in our rapidly evolving world. Educators will ask students to delve deeper for answers and not just regurgitate information. Employers will require these same types of thinking skills, as employees must resolve conflicts or analyze complex situations.
  4. Emotional Intelligence
    During recess, children must interpret and respond to social signals. For example, if a normally interactive child is off by him/herself on the playground, peers may conclude that he feels dejected. Friends may try to communicate with their classmate to help him feel better. In this way, young people develop emotional intelligence and awareness of others’ feelings. Emotional intelligence not only builds students’ empathy for classmates, but also will support positive workplace climates, which in turn increase productivity. 
  5. Teamwork
    Recess is the perfect environment to practice teamwork as well as how to cooperate with others. Whether children are taking turns on the slide or sharing a ball, cooperation is key. Throughout students’ school years, they will need the ability to work cohesively. For adult professionals, this skill is no less important.

Related resources

No Break Today!
Dropping recess, some say, gains more time for learning. But does it actually gain more learning?

Recess: Necessity or Nicety?
The pressure for schools to improve student test scores is so intense that some are abandoning the childhood treasure of recess in lieu of more on-task time.

Should Schools Take a Break from Recess?
Does it make sense, educationally and developmentally, to eliminate recess for students in elementary school? That question is the subject of debate among educators.


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