Playing helps kids learn, according to a new statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Recess should not be taken away from kids as punishment or to increase scheduled class time, states the study’s author, Dr. Robert Murray.
I’ve been a teacher who was right in the middle of a lesson as recess time approached or who was trying to reason with a kid who has already been in time out six times before 10 a.m. and keeps looking out the window longingly.
I was not a kid who needed physical exercise to burn off energy so that I could process academic information. And I usually dreaded recess, all those unsupervised dodge ball assaults, screaming boys, and stressful tag games. I first taught middle school and didn’t understand why kids that old couldn’t just sit quietly with a book if they needed a break, rather than the social, emotional, and physical chaos of a pre-adolescent outside break time. Then I taught younger kids (second grade), and I got it on a much more basic level. They needed time to hang out in their own child-like worlds and to develop social skills without the direct instruction of adults. Their brains need time away from academics to process the information that they’re learning.
Even the Japanese get it. According to the study’s author, Japanese children get 10 minutes of free recess time for each 50 minutes of academic time.
Is this something that our schools are thinking about?