Recess four times a day? Why some schools are now letting kids play an hour a day.
(Photo of kids playing at recess supplied by LiiNK Project and used with permission)
For years we’ve been hearing that many schools have cut back — or eliminated — recess for young children because academics are seen as more important than giving kids a chance to move during the school day. But now some schools are bucking the trend — big time, sending kids outside four separate times a day for unstructured play.
It’s part of a new program, called the LiiNK Project, which connects play and character development and is designed to bridge academics with the social, emotional and physical well-being of children. The program started in the 2015-2016 school year with four schools in Texas that used the program and four other schools that served as controls. Although it’s too early for definitive results, the short-term ones look promising. Kids in the program schools focused better than those in the control groups during the year, and reports of bullying were down. This year it is being used in 14 public schools in six school districts in Texas and Oklahoma.
Recess serves as a necessary break from the rigors of concentrated, academic challenges in the classroom. But equally important is the fact that safe and well-supervised recess offers cognitive, social, emotional, and physical benefits that may not be fully appreciated when a decision is made to diminish it. Recess is unique from, and a complement to, physical education — not a substitute for it. 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.