With recess facing an uncertain future in some schools, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a policy statement today emphasizing the unique role of recess in the development of children.
The AAP notes that in recent years, studies and surveys have indicated that recess time has been on the decline in favor of more class time. (Here’s looking at you, high-stakes testing.)
However, with childhood obesity on the rise since the turn of the century, schools also now face calls to address the epidemic by scheduling more physical activity throughout the school day.
The academy suggests that recess can be a way to accomplish two goals simultaneously. Previous studies have found students to be more attentive in class after recess, as their brains need time to recover after intense bouts of instruction.
“To be effective, the frequency and duration of breaks should be sufficient to allow the student to mentally decompress,” the AAP recommends.
Beyond the social and emotional benefits of allowing students to spend time with their friends in a nonstructured environment, recess also provides children an opportunity to get outside and stretch their legs for a few minutes each day, which the AAP and other experts consider critical.
“Even minor movement during recess counterbalances sedentary time at school and at home and helps the child achieve the recommended 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per day,” the statement reads.
Allowing children to engage in physical activity in recess could help them stay physically fit, which could end up helping them in the classroom, too. A review published online in January in the .
A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.