The Importance of Recess and Play at School

For many elementary students, recess is a one of the highlights of their day. We probably all remember the desire to get out of the classroom and play with our friends, just as many of us look forward to breaks from work or other projects. If your child declares their favorite part of the school day is recess, don’t worry—psychologists have found that recess and play are extremely important to your child’s development. At our charter prep schools in Phoenix, AZ, we strive to take into account the need for play when designing our school schedule.

In this age of high-stakes testing, many schools are cutting recess in favor of more classroom time. Not only is that a frustration for your wiggly second grader, but it may actually be detrimental to kids in the long run. Here’s why recess and play are such an important part of the school day:

  • Physical activity works off excess energy: Think back to when you were a child—was there ever a time your parents or teachers told you to just sit still? Children often have more physical energy than adults, which can lead to decreased attention spans and patience for learning. Plus, physical activity is an important part of being healthy – for both students and adults!
  • Helps improve attention spans: Taking time out to play and be physically active has also been proven to improve a student’s attention span. After getting the opportunity to play, studies show children are more attentive and willing to learn when they get back to class.
  • Playtime can improve cognitive abilities: Physical activity is important for the brain’s cognitive processing abilities. Kids need breaks between periods of intense study, so their brains will be able to fully process the lesson.
  • Recess helps develop important social and emotional skills: Although we don’t usually measure and grade social and emotional skills, these “soft skills” can be even more important to future success than some of the content we teach. It seems like more adults struggle professionally and personally with negotiating interpersonal relationships than struggle with more measurable “academic” skills. Recess provides essential time for students to make friends, practice empathy, and learn to negotiate conflict with peers.

If your school is one of the many that doesn’t offer recess or play time, consider addressing the issue with the principal. Or consider finding a school that believes in the benefits of recess and helping students develop social-emotional skills.

Charter prep school in Phoenix, AZ

Pointe Schools is a collection of charter prep schools serving the Phoenix, AZ area. We emphasize research-based, balanced learning methods that place as much importance on good character and leadership as we do on academic standards. We believe that who you are is sometimes more important than what you know. Our goal is to prepare students for their adult lives both intellectually and as a member of the community. If you’re interested in enrolling your child or working with us, get in touch with us today to learn more about our schools.

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