Recess crucial for kids' social development 

click to enlarge Some school districts around the country are considering cutting recess time, but experts say that could be a mistake.  - VIRGINIA CARTER
  • Some school districts around the country are considering cutting recess time, but experts say that could be a mistake.
  • Virginia Carter
By Veronica Carter

As schools work to meet academic and testing standards, some are cutting back on recess time to make room for more class time. But, experts say that can have long-term negative consequences for children.

Playtime isn't downtime, said Tami Silverman president and CEO of the Indiana Youth Institute. Time on the playground gives kids the chance to develop some critical life skills, including learning how to stand up for themselves, problem-solve, and communicate with their peers.

"Recess gives kids a moment to be creative and to be imaginative," Silverman said. "And it's some of those skills that they just can't learn when they're sitting behind a desk."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends every elementary-age child get 60 minutes of activity per day. Silverman said that should be a combination of gym time and play at recess, because kids are learning different things during each.

Research shows that recess can actually improve a child's focus and behavior in the classroom, Silverman said.

"I think we can all relate to that - to the idea that there's a lot in our day, but sometimes you need that little break," she said. "And kids need that break too - to decompress, refocus and be ready to learn."

According to Silverman, educators are under tremendous pressure to perform academically, and many are convinced more classroom time will lead to higher test scores. But, she said they shouldn't eliminate time for kids to run and play.

"There are some great programs throughout Indiana, such as Playworks," Silverman said, "that works directly with schools to enhance this culture of play, and the idea that students benefit from having that time to just be themselves and relax, and get some of that energy out, and develop all these other skills."

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