Is Recess a waste of time?

If you think back to your time in grade school, you probably remember going outside in the middle of the day for recess. Maybe you played tag, or pretended that the ground was lava, or maybe you just slid down the slide, but chances are you enjoyed at least 20 or 30 minutes of unstructured playtime in your day. Many schools these days, however, have greatly reduced, or even completely eliminated, recess from the student schedule.

Some people argue that recess is a waste of time, and that when your kids are out playing hide-and-seek, they are missing out on important lessons in math or English. Opponents of recess would have your kids spend more of their day learning in a structured classroom environment, and less time in unstructured play. The research, however, says that removing or reducing recess from schools is counterproductive and actually leads to a worse educational experience for the children. When kids aren’t allowed some time to play during their day, they actually perform worse in academic subjects, even if they spend that extra time working on those very subjects. Giving kids a period of physical activity likely helps them burn off excess energy so that they can focus better on their lessons. It can also be argued that recess is actually educational itself, if you consider that it gives kids a time to exercise their creativity, form important social connections, and learn how to relate to the people and the world around them. Unstructured interaction, like what children experience during recess, provides a counterpoint to the structured, formal lessons they receive in the classroom, and allotting time for recess actually complements the child’s overall education, rather than detracting from it.