Recess used to be a regular occurrence – driving past your local school in the afternoon, you would see hundreds of learners playing, running and just being kids. However, the race for high test scores has changed all this. Now, school curricula are barely setting aside time for recess.

Why recess is important

Research suggests that children need recess to combat obesity and stay healthy. It also helps improve the child’s cognitive skills.

Here are three more reasons why recess is important:

1. Social benefits of recess

We start acquiring social skills as soon as we begin interacting with the people around us. It starts with our interactions with parents and siblings and grows as we interact with other children in daycare, kindergarten and grade school. Unstructured play like the type kids engage in during recess helps build and reinforce social skills in a way that they can never learn in the classroom environment.

2. Cognitive benefits of recess

Studies indicate that recess also provides amazing cognitive benefits to children. As adults, we understand the importance of taking regular breaks from work.

Studies have shown that taking breaks helps improve information retention, promotes the learning of new concepts, and improves both productivity and creativity. A regular break from the structured classroom environment is beneficial for both the child’s mind and body. It can also help break the monotony and keep youngsters more interested and engaged in their classwork.

3. Behavioral benefits of recess

Managing behavior in the classroom environment can be a huge challenge. These youngsters are expected to sit still and learn for six to eight hours a day and be on their best behavior for the whole time. This pressure can trigger behavioral challenges that would otherwise be avoided by introducing a recess in between the lessons.

Bottom line

Recess offers a great opportunity for children to take a break from the rigorous classroom environment. Studies have shown that physically active children have better school attendance, cognitive performance, classroom behavior and grades.

Specifically, recess has been shown to provide the following benefits:

• Improving their level of physical activity
• Helping them stay attentive in the classroom
• Improving their interpersonal skills