Recess Just As Important As Reading And Math For Child Development [Study]

Running around with friends and taking in some fresh air is just as important as studying math and learning to read. According to a new study from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) the pastime of recess is an important part of a child’s development and social interaction skills.

The AAP published its statement in the journal Pediatrics in which it stresses the importance of school mandated breaks in learning times.

Statement co-author Dr. Robert Murray, a pediatrician and professor of human nutrition at the Ohio State University, notes:

“Children need to have downtime between complex cognitive challenges. They tend to be less able to process information the longer they are held to a task. It’s not enough to just switch from math to English. You actually have to take a break.”

Research regarding the efficacy of recess began in 2007 when the AAP hoped to report back on the physical merits of mandated breaks in learning. Instead the group found that it wasn’t just the physical aspects of a child’s development that benefits from recess. Researchers found that recess had a greater impact on “social, emotional and cognitive development in a much deeper way than we’d expected.”

The biggest development factor? Conflict resolution, a skill that can carry over into other aspects of learning in the classroom.

May schools have attempted to cut back on recess in order to shorten school days and cram as much learning into each day as possible, this new study however could change that way of thinking.

According to Time:

“Since the 1990s, 73% of elementary school students through sixth grade have some form of daily recess, though it can vary widely between districts and even from school to school. That inconsistency could have serious implications for children’s health, says Catherine Ramstetter, Murray’s co-author and a health educator at Cincinnati’s Christ College of Nursing and Health Sciences. As recess started to disappear, for example, researchers noticed a spike in childhood-obesity rates.”

Researchers warn that their is a difference between the structured learning activities of gym and the unstructured time given for recess. The AAP and other child development groups recommend at least 20 minutes of unstructured recess time per day.

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