When we look back on the elementary school years, most of us have fond memories of playing with our friends at recess. This is the time of day when best friends play games and secrets are told. Every little group has their special place that they sit and talk. Some might sit under an old tree, while others gather on top of the jungle gym. There are swings, slides, and things to climb on. What more can a kid ask for? Playtime never seems long enough when you are kid. What kids don’t know, is that they are still learning while playing on the playground.
There is more to life than learning what is in a book. Academics are important, yet, life skills come from play time and interactions with other kids. Many kids even talk to their teachers during recess, allowing for better bonding time and conversational skills. Recess is also a time that kids look forward to every day. They often continue their games from day to day, picking up where they left off from the day before. They may play “house” in the fort, or form a secret club under the slide. These activities often mimic real life. Creative games allow them to learn how to negotiate, resolve disagreements, and problem solve.
Creativity is often left out of the academic day, as children get older. Crafts are main part of kindergarten, however, they start to fade out during first grade. Many kids still learn best when some creativity is applied. There are also many kids that thoroughly enjoy the creative subjects, such as art and theatre. Recess is a great time for these kids to express themselves by putting on little plays, or just simply singing as they walk around. An extension for recess is necessary if we want our future generations to acquire positive life skills and successful self-expression.
10. Frees the Mind
Kids spend a lot of time in scheduled activities and being told what to do. Even at home they must adhere to rules that apply to every aspect of their lives. Kids do benefit from a schedule, however, they also need time to explore their own ideas. Young children are learning non-stop. They need time to process information. Children can easily get overstimulated, as their brains are constantly taking in new information. As adults, we kind of filter out things we already know about. Everything is new to kids, however.
Kids need more sleep, because they need to process more information. Since kids tend to have a ton of energy. When adults realize this they often overload them with schoolwork. It is important, however, to schedule downtime into their day. We all need breaks throughout the day. Adults are just better at pushing through long days without them. Kids have meltdowns. When this happens at school, it can be embarrassing for the child, as well as detrimental to learning.
It may not seem like kids have any big plans for their free time. Adults, after all, make all the scheduling decisions for them. They do, however, think ahead to what they would like to do during recess. Many kids may not have another break until bedtime. Recess and lunch are likely the only time they have to make their own choices. Those with working parents likely go to after school programs with pre-planned schedules. Even if they get playtime during these programs, homework is also a major part of the program. Recess allows time for kids to let go of all the expectations that adults put on them.
9. Nurtures Creativity
Kids are great at making up games and creating fun art. They can take items that are usually thrown away, and turn them into a toy. Most adults remember a time when they made a house out of box, for instance. Pillow forts, blanket tents, and stuffed animal tea parties all happen during free playtime. Sometimes, adults dismiss the ideas that kids have. It can be easy to get caught up in the daily grind, leaving little time for creative play. Kids need this time, however, to express themselves.
Recess is a great time to nurture creativity, as kids can make their own decisions about what to play. They also have a significant amount of other children to be creative with. This allows for kids to bounce ideas off of one another, often leading to the creation of games that are remembered far into adulthood. If you watch kids closely during recess, you can see the results of longer playtimes. Their games may become more detailed, and they may even find new ways to play existing games.
Kids can often be heard using made up words that belong in their creative activities. This type of thought is discouraged in the classroom, where they must adhere to proper language rules. They may even make up different names for themselves. They get the chance to be whoever they want to be during recess.
8. Helps them Learn Better
Elementary academic programs can be rigorous. There is a lot of information that must fit into each school day. Public schools, especially, must keep up with a set curriculum. This can leave little time to devote to recess. Kids, however, may learn the information better if they are given an adequate break. Even adults, as some point, stop progressing when they work on projects too long without a break. Regular breaks help you stay focused better when you are on task.
Recess helps kids relax. The physical activity can release endorphins in the brain. This can help kids shed anxiety over things like tests. They can take a break from a difficult lesson, and revisit the concepts after clearing their head on the playground. Once a child becomes frustrated with a lesson, they need a break before revisiting it. Big projects are also overwhelming to some people. Kids need the time reassess the situation or think about what they want to do next. Recess is a great time of the day for reflection
Kids may have a better clarity of mind after recess, as well. A longer recess, or more than one during the day, can help maintain this clarity. Kids can get especially restless on state test days. These tests often require that kids sit for longer periods of time. Even if they finish the test early, they must sit still and wait for the others. A well-timed recess can help kids focus on the tests better. These tests often determine the amount of state funding allotted to the school. When school funding is concerned, it literally pays to extend recess.
7. Life Skills
Kids need to develop skills other than those taught in the academic realm. They must learn how to deal with their peers. They become skilled at conversation, working out differences, and empathy when they are able to spend time with friends in unscripted situations. There is little time to talk in a classroom. They need free time to have normal conversations. During this free time, they may even have a few arguments. This helps them learn about real life situations. They need problem solving skills to get through their adult years.
They may also need to ask for help from a teacher during this time. If a friend gets hurt, or a disagreement gets out of hand, they need to know what to do. Sometimes it is necessary to ask for help from an adult. Recess needs to be longer so that there is ample time for different types of situations to arise. Solid life skills can help with success at all ages of life.
Kids also tend to play games that mimic daily life. They may gather their friends and pretend to be a family, assigning each other roles. They may also pretend that they have jobs. While they are executing these activities, they are applying what they have learned by watching adults. This helps to prepare them for the future.
6. Bonding with Friends and Teachers
Teachers barely have time to learn their student’s names, much less learn about their lives. Recess gives kids and teachers time to talk. Most young kids adore their teachers. This makes it much easier for a conversation to start once the opportunity arrives. Teachers, also, love their students. They want to hear about how their kids are doing and what their days are like. Large classes, however, make this difficult, as there is not time to talk to each student separately.
Time spent in the classroom is not enough to build relationships on. Kids need time to have full-length conversations that are not interrupted by a bell, or teacher. Some friends do not get to see each other outside of school. Longer recess allows these students time to build a bond. These bonds often last into adulthood when they are nurtured properly. It is important to allow kids the opportunity to enhance their lives in this way.
Bonding is an important part of child development. They need to bond with people other than their parents. Relationship building is a big part of life. Kids learn trust, accountability, and how to care for others. Kids usually make friends rather easily, but sometimes they need a little help. Extra red