Ask any teacher, “What time of day is your students’ favorite?” For most, their answer will undoubtedly be RECESS. Recess is that time of the school day where students are allowed to take a break from academic work and take part in active, free play. Recess usually takes place outdoors, but if there is bad weather, recess may happen either in the classroom or the gymnasium. Recess provides physical activity which has many benefits, but it also helps to provide opportunities for social and emotional development.
Think about this. Recess may be the ONLY time some students participate in physical activity during an entire school day.
We know that regular physical activity provides many benefits:
- Reduces the risk for chronic health problems such as obesity and diabetes, among others,
- Assists with academic performance,
- Reduces the risk for depression and other mental health problems,
- Improves overall quality of life (National Association for Sport and Physical Education, 2011).
Recess also allows students to develop and practice social and emotional skills. Playing actively with peers helps students develop skills for making friends and keeping them. Further, students have opportunities to practice cooperation, sharing, following rules, resolving conflict, language skills, turn-taking, and problem solving, in real-life scenarios.
Many teachers I encounter report that students who have recess demonstrate improved attention and ability to stay on task. Recess is a valuable part of the instructional day as it provides numerous health benefits and learning experiences for our students. Give it a try!
What are your favorite recess activities for your students?