Remember the days of playing hopscotch, kickball, or tag? Or maybe you can recall the joys of swinging from the monkey bars or the release from climbing on the jungle gym? Doctors, parents, and others are concerned that kids are losing out on physical activity during their school day to increase the amount of instruction. Working with schools and lawmakers should be our focus to protect recess and physical education time.
When schools replace physical education and recess with more instructional time and academic work, children lose valuable benefits from free time and play. The benefits include:
- Children need a release time from the classroom. They need to expend their energy.
- Studies have shown that children are able to focus in the classroom when they have recess time.
- Other studies have shown that children feel more positive and secure when recess is a part of their day.
- Children learn best by experience. The playground and gym provide this type environment for learning. They provide opportunities for problem solving, interpersonal communication, and other learning that cannot be taught as effectively in the classroom.
- Increases in diagnoses of childhood obesity ADHD have occurred in the pediatric population. Additional physical activity for those patients through recess and physical education could have beneficial effects.Recess and physical education also provides a much appreciated break for the classroom teachers.
As Mark Twain has echoed, let’s not let school get in the way of education. Let’s remember there is a time to read and a time to run. May we champion those policies and rules that protect recess and physical education.
Jacob Jones, MD