Study: Recess is critical

Last week, a group of pediatricians said in a statement published in a recent Pediatrics trade journal that school recess is a crucial and necessary component during a child's development. Based on their research, the doctors said recess and free time helps students develop communication skills like cooperation and sharing.
Krystle Wagner
Jan 7, 2013


Sandra Smits, principal of Holmes Elementary School, said research showing the importance of recess has been one of the reasons for a makeover of the Spring Lake school’s playground. She said it is designed to provide students with a variety of activities they can participate in with friends.

Each school day, Smits said Holmes students have a scheduled 15-minute recess and another during their lunchtime.

“We know from research that recess is a necessary and important break for our students that can optimize social, emotional, physical and cognitive development,” she said. “Recess time also promotes a healthy lifestyle, as well as the emotional benefits of play and peer interaction.”

Jeffers Elementary School Principal Shelley Peets said the pediatricians' statement reaffirms what they’ve known all along — that recess is important. The student handbook for the Spring Lake school states that recess is “an extremely important physical and emotional break in the day of elementary students.”

“I think it helps them re-focus during the day,” Peets said.

Kevin Blanding, principal of Rosy Mound Elementary School, said recess and less-structured academic time is important for providing students opportunities to make choices, engage in social interactions and learning to solve problems.

“These are wonderful for large motor skills, as well as for developing a love of healthy activities,” he said. “... Recess is a rich physical and social time for children."

Smits said recess isn’t the only break for Holmes students. She said teachers make sure there are “brain breaks” during the day to let students rest as they prepare for the next activity. It could be a snack break, whole body break or singing.

“The teachers continuously monitor their students and know when they need a break,” Smits said.




I understood the priority of the resurfacing of the playground was for more green space and replacing playground equipment that had been at Holmes for over 30 years. I do appreciate that the parent club at Holmes recognizes that physical activity is important and it is not solely a break for the teachers. A more relevant study is having recess before lunch...does that happen in your schools? It would be more of an obstacle for teachers break but truly a better experience for students to eat after exercising. Also I have always commended Mr. Robinson for his Breakfast Club and his swing dance promote physical fitness


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