Recess as Essential as Class: Doctors

Great for kids' brains, bodies

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 1, 2013 4:57 PM CST

(Newser) – Great news, though it comes too late for most of us: Doctors are taking a stand on the benefits of recess, and not just for the exercise. It's just as important to children's development as class time is, the American Academy of Pediatrics says. The organization is officially advocating a scheduled break during the school day, Time reports. "Children need to have downtime between complex cognitive challenges," says a pediatrician. "They tend to be less able to process information the longer they are held to a task."

And "it’s not enough to just switch from math to English. You actually have to take a break," he adds. On top of that, recess lets kids work on conflict resolution. And there are the health implications: A decline in recess has coincided with a rise in child obesity. The news comes with recess on the outs: Just three states require 20 minutes per day. Recess structures vary widely between schools, with 73% of kids through sixth grade getting some type of recess since the 1990s. The report doesn't say how long recess should be—but it's not just for students: "Everyone, not just kids, benefits from regular breaks in the day," says a researcher.

Recess is a key part of a child's day, pediatricians say.
Recess is a key part of a child's day, pediatricians say.   (Shutterstock)
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