Reading, Writing, Arithmetic…and Recess

Ask your kiddo what his favorite subject in school is, and there’s a good chance he’ll have the same response as many of his classmates: “Recess!” That is, assuming he has recess every day. Does he?

But as much as kids love it, recess is more than just fun and games. It helps our little scholars learn how to think creatively, make friends, share, negotiate and resolve conflicts on their own. Research shows that recess also helps them focus and learn better. Recess also gives them a chance to apply skills they are learning in PE class.

But despite all the documented benefits (and anecdotal ones), recess often gets written off as time that would be better spent on academics. In fact, up to 40 percent of U.S. school districts have reduced or eliminated recess in order to free up more time for other subjects. But, perhaps counterintuitively, that actually comes at a cost to learning.

Reading, writing and arithmetic: we’re not questioning your importance. But it’s time to take play seriously, too.

Advocate for more recess

If your kid’s school doesn’t meet the 20-minutes-a-day recommendation, or you find out they are withholding recess as a punishment for bad behavior (there are alternatives), you don’t have to sit on the sidelines. Take it from Angela Browning and Amy Narvaez of Orlando, Florida. Discouraged that their children’s schools had eliminated recess, they began advocating for 20 minutes of recess a day. However, they didn’t stop at their schools. Watch their video to draw inspiration and tips from these moms on a mission.

Visit Action for Healthy Kids, Playworks and Peaceful Playgrounds for resources on starting a campaign for more recess.

Advocate for better recess

Even if your kid’s school does meet the daily recommendation for recess, there’s likely some room for improvement. While unstructured play is super important for children’s development, there are also benefits to providing structured games and physical activities.

Check out the Ready, Set, Recess! links below for tips and ideas on maximizing the benefits of recess, and consider these three factors that every effective recess program should include:

  • Enough trained adults to enforce safety rules and prevent aggressive or bullying behavior
  • Enough space, facilities and equipment
  • A physically safe environment

Ready, Set, Recess!

Outdoors or in, primary or secondary, do your homework to learn how to get an “A” in (just about) every kid’s favorite subject by checking out these topics.

Also, check out The Learning Connection to learn more about the link between physical activity and academic performance.

Indoor Recess

Bad weather? Problem solved.

Outdoor Recess

Ensure an active recess.

Recess Before Lunch

Better behavior AND appetites.

Recess for Middle School

Don’t call it recess, Mom.

The Ins and Outs of Recess

Recess is necessary fun for kids, and they should have 20 minutes of it daily. Get tips on how you can champion recess at school.

Pop Quiz for Parents

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