Benefits of Recess

Schools across America have cut recess time in an effort to reallocate more time to academic subjects which has sparked a vigorous debate. A statement of reaffirmation was published by the American Academy of Pediatrics set off to settle this debate and reiterate the importance of recess for the development of children. The statement reviewed over forty different credible studies and experiments that tested the impact recess has on children in a school setting. The collective findings from these studies were overwhelming in favor of recess because of the different academic, social, and physical benefits it has for children.

Academic Benefits of Recess

Cognitively speaking, recess gives children a break in the middle of the day from the rigor of their academic schedule. It gives their ability to concentrate a much need break so they can continue with the rest of the day engaged in their studies. This is also confirmed by the American Academy of Pediatrics’ statement of reaffirmation, “Optimal cognitive processing in a child necessitates a period of interruption after a period of concentrated instruction.” The statement also explains how recess itself improves cognitive function through its interactivity and manipulative experiences.

Social Benefits of Recess

It is critical for children not only to develop academically and cognitively but also socially. What better way to promote social engagement than recess, an allotted time apart of every day where children get to run around, play, laugh, problem-solve, and even face conflict with their peers. These peer interactions occur during classroom time, but not to the extent they do at recess. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Through play at recess, children learn valuable communication skills, including negotiation, cooperation, sharing, and problem solving as well as coping skills, such as perseverance and self-control.” These skills will be fundamental personal tools used throughout the student’s lifetime.

Physical Benefits of Recess

Of all the benefits that recess has to offer, its physical benefits are least surprising. Anyone who has seen a child play at recess understands how physically active they are. While some students may play more vigorously than others, the important thing recess provides is the opportunity for the child to be physically active in whatever form they want. This ultimately allows them to develop a wide variety of movement and motor skills. Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics states “even minor movement during recess counterbalances sedentary time at school and at home and helps the child achieve the recommended 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per day.” The Mayo Clinic also supports the notion of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous play to help lower the risk of obesity in children as well.

Can Gym Glass Help Students With Depression?

Depression is a topic that many prefer not to talk about but has been in the news recently. While most of the attention goes toward adults and how they can try to fight off depression, many children within schools also are being challenged. More focus needs to be made on helping students to recognize what this is and where they can go for assistance.

Sixth Grade Study

Teens often suffer from depression and many are unaware of what is happening to them. Because of the stigma of mental illness, and thinking that they are just teens and this is normal, many suffer silently. The reality is that depression is the third highest cause of teen deaths. Thanks to this startling fact and because it can also lead to disabilities for teens, research has been looking at when depression may begin with tweens and teens.

The American Psychological Association conducted research that looked at sixth-grade students.  They found that there is a correlation with depression starting in sixth grade and continuing within the teen years. Many of the individuals that were depressed in sixth grade later had recurring or chronic depressive bouts.

Utilizing Gym and Recess

Researchers from the American Physiological Association found that there was a correlation with decreased depression in sixth-grade students that participated in physical education classes and recess activities. Similar studies were done by Newcastle University in the United Kingdom also saw that exercise produces endorphins. The endorphins that are made by the body during cardiovascular activity bind to areas in the brain to increase less pain and more positive feelings in people.

Schools need to be aware of this important information to understand why gym classes and recess are needed for students in middle school. Programs that increase physical activity not only help endorphins to battle depression but have other health benefits as well. Of course, social workers and other professionals within the school should work with gym teachers and coaches to focus on positive encouragement. This positive energy will help to motivate students to participate more during the gym class. Students should not be shamed and must be encouraged to do their best based on their physical fitness level.

More research is being done to look into causation, but for now, the correlation is promising. Schools must also incorporate other options within the day to assist students with depression and how to address individual ways to help them with understanding during this tumultuous time in their life.

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