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Recess Time: The Importance of Play

Posted by Joan Samonisky on November 10, 2015 at 2:30 PM
Joan Samonisky

sanford_school_recessJust as I did when I was a youngster, I LOVE RECESS!!! Some may think it is an odd thing for an adult to brag about, but as a career educator in the field of physical education and athletics, I feel that recess is a wonderful learning tool for young people. Recess time provides the training ground for many valuable life lessons that adults use every day.In addition to the physical benefits achieved through active play, free and unstructured time allows our younger students to develop:

  • Creativity and imagination
  • Respect for others
  • Compassion and caring for those in need
  • Leadership skills
  • Problem-solving
  • Teamwork

Did you ever pretend that the jungle gym was a ship on the ocean or the swings were a rocket ship climbing higher and higher away from Earth? 

Did you ever make up a new game with a very limited amount of equipment and space or try to divide into fair teams without an adult directing the way? 

Did you ever create masterpiece sculptures in the sandbox or help a friend build a primitive structure after gathering sticks, leaves, and other natural items? 

Did you ever comfort a friend and just sit and chat or come to the aid of a classmate who fell and skinned a knee?

Thankfully, most adults did have recess time as part of a school day to enjoy these types of moments. And it’s not just social and emotional benefits that kids gain from recess. Research from Stanford, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the American University Academy of Pediatrics all look to clear evidence that a well‐supported recess time boosts:

  • Student achievement
  • Student attendance rates
  • Self-awareness of safety and engagement
  • Positive school climates

When we were the students out there on the playground, we did not know that this fun part of the day was also a time of learning and development. Fortunately, we can recognize the benefits now—in both the lives of today’s students and in our schools, as a whole.  recess_2

Happily, at Sanford School, students even into the middle school years get to experience recess moments like these while they take time out of the structured moments of a productive school day. Come observe recess time at your child’s school! You will be amazed to see active and happy children developing life skills that are put to constructive use during this wonderful time in a student’s day!

Joan Samonisky is the Athletic Director of Sanford School.  


Topics: Health & Wellness