Getting outside for unstructured play is beneficial and not the same as a structured physical education class. Whether it is running around, socializing, or explaining the rules of a complex playground game an outdoor break provides the benefit of fresh air and sunshine both noted for increasing health and mood leading to increased learning and productivity. Recess or outside break time for students can reduce stress levels and allows students a bit of time to relax. Additionally, such opportunities enable students to continue the school day with a boost to creativity and problem-solving. We know as adults that to be most productive, we need to schedule a few breaks in our workday. “There is this assumption that if you keep kids working longer, they will learn more,” says educator Olag Jarrett. “It’s misguided.” Jarrett reports that no research supports the notion that test scores go up by keeping children in the classroom longer, but there is plenty of evidence that recess benefits children in cognitive, social-emotional, and physical ways. Research shows that when children have recess, they gain the following benefits:
· Are less fidgety and more on task
· Have improved memory and more focused attention
· Develop more brain connections
· Learn negotiation skills
· Exercise leadership, teach games, take turns, and learn to resolve conflicts
· Are more physically active before and after school
Laura McGee is Head of School at Hilltop Country Day School in Sparta. Laura has been a key member of the Hilltop community for 17 years. She co-founded Camp Apogee, initiated Hilltop’s Makerspace, introduced Hilltop students to 3D printing, competitive robotics, and the Technology Student Association. With over 30 years of experience as an educator, Laura has worked with schools in New Jersey, Maryland, and Hawaii. Laura is involved in NJ Maker Day, Girls Who Code, Math Kangaroo, and Introduce a Girl to Engineering.