By The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association
Ask any kid… what’s one of their favorite things to do at school? RECESS!
According to play experts, 20 minutes of recess per day is just as important as reading and writing because it promotes positive classroom outcomes.
Recess is a critical part of the school day,’ according to Playworks, a national organization that advocates for keeping recess in schools. It gives students a chance to be physically active and learn important life skills. And it helps them return to the classroom ready to learn.
If you think recess equates with chaos and craziness, think again. Playworks promotes recess as a safe and healthy experience and helps schools tool their recess sessions to reflect such.
“So many schools are trying hard to improve their school climate,” said Jill Vialet, CEO of Playworks. “They’re looking to boost grades and test scores, stop bullying and violent behavior, lower absenteeism and enhance kids’ attitudes towards school overall. What they may not realize is the role that recess can play in reaching those goals – or conversely, the role it plays in making them more difficult to achieve.”
What should recess not be used for? Punishment. That’s right. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, teachers should not revoke recess time for a child who’s having trouble staying on task in the classroom. In fact, those children may need it most.
“Recess is a necessary break in the day for optimizing a child’s social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development,” recommends the American Academy of Pediatrics. “In essence, recess should be considered a child’s personal time, and it should not be withheld for academic or punitive reasons.”
With better organized recess, kids get to release energy pent up from a day behind a desk. This can lead to better concentration in the classroom and behavior overall. Not only do more efficient recesses help a child succeed educationally, but socially building skills that they’ll need in the adult world.
Here are a few ways parents can support recess — and play — at school:
1. Let your administrator know that recess is important to you — and why.
2. Visit your neighborhood toy store (http://www.yourneighborhoodtoystore.org/default.asp) for recess gear that you can donate. Hula hoops, jump ropes, playground balls, sidewalk chalk, and more. The fun gurus at your local toy store will be able to help you find the right items! And your school will be grateful for the donation. (You may even want to check with your school ahead of time to find out what would be most useful!)
3. Work with your school administration to develop a recess volunteer base to support the teaching staff at recess. Take a look at the Playworks program and download their game guide. Tons of ideas!