Loss of recess might be one of the more common punishments teachers dole out to try and correct problem behavior, but decades of evidence indicate that actually has the opposite effect. For the first time in its history, the American Academy of Pediatrics released an official statement about recess, and in it, the coalition of doctors argued unstructured free time offers roughly the same benefits for little kids as changing classes and socializing for a few minutes does for high schoolers. The time to relax and not think about school actually increases productivity and offers “cognitive, physical, emotional and social benefits”.

According to USA Today, recent studies indicate many schools are taking away recess to offer more class time and most use it as a regular punishment method to deal with the bad apples. If the American Academy of Pediatrics is to be believed, however, this is a grave mistake that will reduce attention spans and increase classroom disruptions.

Even when children aren’t exercising, recess is the time in which they develop social skills, learn about sharing and express themselves creatively. There are benefits to the next generation maximizing all of those skills even when it reduces the total time inside the classroom.

An overwhelming majority of school districts deal with the issue of recess on their own. There are no federal laws. Consequently, it’s unclear whether the American Academy of Pediatrics’ endorsement of playtime will have any affect on what schools choose to do. For the sake of the kids and the awesomeness of playground games like Knockout and 4-Square, however, I hope the administrators get their act together and continue letting kids go outside.

Image Credit: Mat Hayward



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