As we look at ways to create environments that allow teaching and learning to thrive, it's time to take a long, hard look at the critical role of recess in our schools. Recess has the potential to transform schools, and groups are finally speaking out about the powerful role it has in the school day, including the American Academy of Pediatrics which, earlier this year, released a policy statement to this effect.
More and more research underscores the invaluable and positive impact recess can have on teaching and learning. In early 2009, researcher Romina Barros of Einstein College found that third grade students who had at least 15 minutes of recess every day behaved better in the classroom than their peers who did not get daily recess.
A safe and healthy recess has tremendous potential, not only to get our children more physically active, but also to support social and emotional learning, preempt bullying and develop the invaluable "soft skills" our kids need to become thriving adults. Through play, students learn teamwork, cooperation, empathy and more.
The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) underscores the benefits of learning these critical skills. Students who receive social-emotional learning instruction, such as teaching skills for safe and inclusive play at recess, have more positive attitudes in school and improved academic achievement.