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  • Annette Laguerre

The Crucial Role of Recess in School.

Teachers have always stressed the importance of recess to the development of chlldren physically, socially, emotionally and spiritually. Now there's growing evidence it also benefits them academically, and the American Academy of Pediatrics has become a vocal advocate.


In January 2013, the American Academy of Pediatrics published an in-depth analysis of the benefits of school recess you can download in its entirety here:

The Crucial Role of Recess in School.pdf
Download PDF • 693KB

Here are their recommendations:


"RECOMMENDATIONS In their role as child health experts, the pediatricians of the AAP stress the following perspective to parents, teachers, school administrators, and policy makers:

  1. Recess is a necessary break in the day for optimizing a child’s social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development. In essence, recess should be considered a child’s personal time, and it should not be withheld for academic or punitive reasons.

  2. Cognitive processing and academic performance depend on regular breaks from concentrated classroom work. This applies equally to adolescents and to younger children. To be effective, the frequency and duration of breaks should be sufficient to allow the student to mentally decompress.

  3. Recess is a complement to, but not a replacement for, physical education. Physical education is an academic discipline. Whereas both have the potential to promote activity and a healthy lifestyle, only recess (particularly unstructured recess) provides the creative, social, and emotional benefits of play.

  4. Recess can serve as a counterbalance to sedentary time and contribute to the recommended 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per day, a standard strongly supported by AAP policy as a means to lessen risk of overweight.

  5. Whether structured or unstructured, recess should be safe and well supervised. Although schools should ban games and activities that are unsafe, they should not discontinue recess altogether just because of concerns connected with child safety. Environmental conditions, well-maintained playground equipment, and well-trained supervisors are the critical components of safe recess.

  6. Peer interactions during recess are a unique complement to the classroom. The lifelong skills acquired for communication, negotiation, cooperation, sharing, problem solving, and coping are not only foundations for healthy development but also fundamental measures of the school experience."

At our Parallel Hope School in Silver Spring, MD, we emphasize these benefits to our students and parents, and encourage behaviors that take maximum adantage of these opportunities. For more information, see https://www.parallelhope.com.

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