The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) added that physical education in schools is also essential for the promotion of activity and a healthy lifestyle.
The AAP issued its new policy statement, "The Crucial Role of Recess in Schools", in the January 2013 issue of its academic journal Pediatrics.
Recess offers schoolchildren physical, emotional, social and cognitive benefits when it is safe and properly supervised, the authors wrote.
Recesses should not substitute physical education classes, but should be a complement, and vice-versa. Regardless of whether recess occurs indoors or outdoors, it should be a period of free, unstructured play or activity. There can be many reasons for having recesses indoors, including "bad air days".
Teachers should never withhold recess as a form of punishment, according to the policy statement. Recesses serve as fundamental components of social interaction and development, which they may not get in other more complex academic environments.
Schools may be tempted to minimize or do away with recesses in order to cram in more academic hours each week; this should not occur, the authors state. The result could be counter-productive; with negative consequences for academic achievement.
According to recent studies, recesses improve a child's social skills, cognitive development and physical health.
In an Abstract in Pediatrics, the authors wrote:
"The American Academy of Pediatrics believes that recess is a crucial and necessary component of a child's development and, as such, it should not be withheld for punitive or academic reasons."
What is a recess?A recess is a period in which people have a break from their duties.
In schools, recess is an American/Canadian term for "break" (UK/Ireland), and morning tea (New Zealand) as well as "playlunch" or "little lunch" in some other parts of the world.
School recesses usually last from ten minutes to half an hour. In elementary schools children typically go outside into an outdoor playground during recess. In most countries in the industrialized world, recesses are part of daily school life from elementary all the way through to the end of senior high school. Educators see recesses as vital for peer communications, going to the toilet, quiet study, consuming quick snacks and some other activities.
Sociologists and psychologists say that recess is an integral contributor to child development during the school day. During this period, children practice their social skills and become much more physically active.
Play and unstructured free time at school helps children develop their:
- Physical abilities
- Intellectual abilities
- Social skills
- Moral capabilities