The Importance Of Recess In Schools

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Recess is most commonly defined as a “break period, typically outdoors, for children” (Pellegrini & Smith, 1993). It is a period of time during the elementary school day in which children engage in monitored but unstructured free play. A recent debate has ensued on the necessity of recess in schools, discussing whether it improves student productivity or wastes valuable school time. Arguing the latter, a handful of schools throughout the state of Florida have cut back on the amount of time allocated toward recess each day (source needed?). To counteract this, Senate Bill 78 under the Legislature of the State of Florida would require each district school board throughout the state to provide students in kindergarten through grade
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Research reveals, however, that recess can improve student academic performance. In a study on the correlation between recess and attentiveness, researchers observed two fourth grade classes, recording their behaviors on days with and without a recess period. Results revealed that children worked more and were less fidgety on days they had recess compared to days they went without (Jarret et al., 1998). In a similar observational study, researchers found that in the kindergarten, second-grade, and fourth-grade classes studied, inattention rates among students were higher before recess than after (Pellegrini, Huberty, & Jones, …show more content…
Physical education classes, in this argument, can be considered the “break” that students need to regain focus and engage in physical activity. However, the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education claims it is “inappropriate to substitute recess for physical education or physical education for recess” (n.d., p. 2). The Council on Physical Education for Children, a national organization of physical education teachers, also denounces the idea of replacing recess with physical education (2001, need source, Pellegrini, 2008). A physical education class is another form of instructional time that places rigorous demands on children to improve their skills, and does not constitute the break that children need to boost concentration and improve memory (Pellegrini, 2008). It also does not encourage children to engage in physical activity on their own time because it is a structured activity, whereas recess involves monitored but unstructured free play that allows children to set their own routines and