Recess is Vital

REMEMBER the monkey climber, swings and merry-go-round on the school playground as well as sometimes playing basketball when you were in elementary classes?

There also were improvised games such as tag, although that sometimes could result in a banged-up knee.

If you enjoyed these activities, you might be happy to know that the American Academy of Pediatrics recently issued a policy statement titled, “The Crucial Role of Recess in School.”

It pointed out that a growing trend toward reallocating time in school to place emphasis on academic subjects has put this important part of a child’s school day at risk.

Not only is recess a necessary break from academic challenges in the classroom, but the policy goes on to note, “But equally important is the fact that safe and well-supervised recess offers cognitive, social, emotional and physical benefits that may not be fully appreciated when a decision is made to diminish it. Recess is unique from, and a complement to, physical education – not a substitute for it.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics is not alone in favoring recess for elementary school students.

The American Heart Association, U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Association for the Education of Young Children and American Association for the Child’s Right to Play also are in favor of recess.

Surveys have shown that most schools do offer recess between 15 and 30 minutes once or twice a day.

It’s encouraging that about 79 percent of the elementary schools in the nation offered daily recess in 2006, and this was an increase from 71 percent in 2000.

ANY CHILD caught throwing a paper wad or talking to a classmate in class undoubtedly would appreciate a comment by Dr. Robert Murray, co-author of the AAP’s new policy statement.

Murray noted, “We consider it essentially the child’s personal time and don’t feel it should be taken away for academic or punitive reasons.”

The authors also pointed out that research has found that children are able to pay closer attention and perform tasks better after recess.

Children probably don’t realize that recess, which is so much fun, is actually good for them.