The secrets to why students need recess

Posted by Jeff Hersh

Think back to your school days as a child. What part of your day gave you the most joy? Long division? World History Pre-1800?

Just Kidding.

There are plenty of math lovers out there, who most certainly did look forward to arithmetic and plenty of history buffs who got a twinkle in their eye just before entering the time-traveler’s classroom.

WITS Coach Rob Sanders leading students in a fun and interactive game on the recess yard

U.S. Department of Agriculture. CC Attribution 2.0. Some rights reserved.

Maybe it’s hard to remember, because in adult life and the working world we typically don’t have a set time to play.


Even just the word should create an electricity within, as you remember the glorious freedom that was given to you as a student. Recess is an essential part of a student’s school experience, even today.


Here are the 5 reasons students need recess.

1 – Socialization

While students interact with each other in the classroom, recess allows them to  discuss more than just the assignments and work at hand. This is an opportunity for children to create friendships and learn how to interact with others. Some shyer students may keep to themselves, but at least the opportunity is there for them.


2 – Explore Interests

This is a time in the school day where students have something they aren’t usually given:  autonomy. Maybe it’s controlled by teachers and assistant aides, but it’s still autonomy. It’s important for children to explore their personal interests. Recess gives students the time to make choices about how they want to use their free time. Whether it’s sports, reading, computers, or chatting with friends, the power to choose is a huge confidence builder and helps students begin to understand themselves better.


3 – Exercise

While Physical Education teaches students how to how to live healthy and stay active, recess is a chance to get some much needed exercise during the day. Chances are, students spend most of the day at their desk, so even a little bit of time to engage in sports or run around will do wonders for that pent up energy. This will also teach them lifelong habits to always find time be active in their day.


4 – Recharge

Children, like adults, need breaks. Expecting them to achieve in the classroom takes a lot of mental energy, and a break in the day will help them recharge.  It kind of makes you want to suggest adding a recess time for teachers too, right? Everyone needs a short break to rest and recharge to be able to focus sharply again.


5 – Makes School Fun

Finally, recess is fun. While other parts of the day may contain a fun component, recess is theepitome of fun. This is a time to play; to not be cooped up at one’s desk; to not feel the pressures of achievement. Children of all ages are looking for some joy, and recesscan feel like a reward for a hard day’s work, or just a personal gift of some free time. This is something even teachers and administrators could use in their day.


Kickball anyone?    🙂

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