The IPA/USA Elementary Recess Handbook presents a strong case for school recess. Here are just a few of the ways they say recess fits the bill for elementary aged children.
Recess meets a child’s social and emotional needs in these ways:
- For many children, the chance to play with friends is an important reason for coming to school.
- Recess can lower stress and anxiety. Without a chance to relieve stress, children sometimes resort to outbursts, nail-biting and temper tantrums.
- Recess provides a non-threatening way for children of different cultures to learn from each other.
- Recess gives some children a chance to break away from classmates, collect their thoughts and be alone for a while.
Recess promotes brain development and learning in these ways:
- Students who do not get a break are much more fidgety. Plus they miss out on watching and learning from other children.
- Unstructured play allows children to explore and exercise their sense of wonder, which leads to creativity.
- Vigorous exercise helps the heart pump fresh oxygen into the blood to nourish sluggish brains.
Recess meets the child’s physical needs in these ways:
- Physical activity can reduce cardiac risk factors like obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and inactive life styles.
- Play in the great outdoors stimulates the senses: children breathe fresh air, move on blades of green grass, smell fresh plants and run to favorite landmarks.
- Through rough and tumble play, children learn about their bodies’ capabilities and how to control themselves in their environment.
- Activities like jump rope, kickball and hopscotch encourage children to take turns, negotiate rules, and cooperate.
American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement: The Crucial Role of Recess in School
Scholastic Article: Recess makes kids smarter
Superduper Handout: Benefits of Recess
Here are some of the programs devoted to recess — and physical activity in general — in schools:
Playworks (playworks.org) — The company works with schools and youth organizations to create playground programs for every child, saying, “We ensure they have a place that is safe and welcoming — where they can play, thrive and contribute.” The company has programs in 21 states, including Colorado (but none listed in Pueblo so far).
Peaceful Playgrounds (peacefulplaygrounds.com) — Peaceful Playgrounds creates physical activity programs that can be purchased by organizations and schools, everything from recess kits to pedometers for students.
Take 10! (take10.net) — Promotes healthy movement activities.
Fuel Up to Play 60 (fueluptoplay60.com) — The National Dairy Council and the NFL, with the USDA, provide programs and funds for healthy eating and physical activity programs in schools. The goal is to encourage kids to eat right and play for 60 minutes every day.
— Source: Colorado Department of Education