Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Benefits of Recess

I would like to continue the discussion about the importance of recess. A forum of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) spent ten years researching this information. Their findings were printed in the NAEYC Journal, September 2009. I have summarized the information on the cognitive, socio-emotional, and physical benefits of recess for you in today’s column with a few of my own musings (in italics) concerning recess.
Cognitive benefits: It was found that children are more on task and less fidgety when they have recess. Those with ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity syndrome) benefit the most. (Could it be that recess is a cheaper and healthier alternative to drugs for ADHD?) Memory recall is improved when children have breaks from teaching and brain research shows a positive relationship between physical activity and the development of brain connections.
Socio-emotional benefits: When children choose their own play, they teach each other games, take turns, and resolve conflicts. They do this by learning negotiation skills to keep the play going. (Could it be that some of our members of congress have never had recess?) They also learn conflict resolution on supervised playgrounds where the games they are taught have this built in.
Physical benefits: Children eat healthier when they have recess before lunch, rather than after lunch. Children who are active during the day at school are more active after school whereas children who are sedentary during the day tend to remain sedentary after school. (Could it be that our couch potato children suffer from a lack of recess?)
I will end our discussion on recess with a quote from the article. "Depriving a child of recess as punishment is similar to depriving a child of lunch. It is not only unfair, it is also unhelpful. Just as hungry children cannot concentrate well, children deprived of breaks cannot concentrate well either. Sometimes the most disruptive children need recess the most."

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