5 Reasons Why Recess is Important

The most memorable moments for anyone who studied in the traditional school system were all made during recess. It’s the time students would play outside and interact with others in an unstructured environment. Today, time allocated for recess..

The most memorable moments for anyone who studied in the traditional school system were all made during recess. It’s the time students would play outside and interact with others in an unstructured environment.

Today, time allocated for recess has reduced significantly as the school system allocates more time for academic activities in the classroom. While academics play an essential role in a child’s intellectual growth, recess time complements classwork by boosting creativity, cultivating social abilities, and reducing tension from hours of classwork. 

The reduction of recess time in schools has sparked a heated debate between parents and education stakeholders about whether recess is important or not. In this article, we point out five primary reasons why recess is important and how children benefit from it. 

The Role of Physical Activity

  • Increased Physical Health

Physical health is an essential aspect of a child’s development. According to the National Institutes of Health, child obesity is a public health issue as obesity rates have increased 10-fold for the past 40 years. 

Unfortunately, obese children are at a high risk of health complications like heart disease resulting from high blood pressure and high cholesterol. 

Today, most children have no time to play. They are either in school studying or at home, playing on their computers and other smart devices. This lifestyle keeps the body static, allowing fats to accumulate and cause obesity. 

On the other hand, physical activity promotes the breakdown of fats, giving the body enough energy for other activities. While schools have structured physical education (P.E.) sessions in the class timetable, unstructured recess works better for children. 

Recess allows children to play any game they like while utilizing the available facilities within the school. Such play times contribute largely to the reduction of obesity among children. 

  • Development of Motor Skills

As children grow, they are expected to become less dependent on other people for certain tasks and gain their independence. For example, a child in preschool may still need a teacher’s help to use the bathroom when in school. 

As they interact with other children, they develop fine skills and will soon be able to go to the bathroom alone. 

On the other hand, gross motor skills that require large body movements are important because they help a child develop strength and build their muscles for activities such as pushing, pulling, or walking. 

During recess, children can choose activities such as skipping rope, wall climbing, bowling, bean bag target, ball games, or jumping on the monkey bars. Some of these activities may require adult supervision so that they don’t hurt themselves while playing 

Social Skills and Peer Interaction

  • Fostering Social Connections

When interacting in a free environment during recess, children are able to interact with others and socialize without fear. They learn how to share and work as a team, primarily through games that require more than one person to play. 

Additionally, they learn how to compromise and negotiate with others, especially when they need something or are in trouble with other children. For example, Kids playing together may create imaginary playmates like characters in different worlds, and tell stories about it. 

Such friends share creativity when playing for a bond that may last long because they learn to collaborate and bring their ideas together. 

  • Addressing Conflict Resolution

When children play together during recess, they may end up disagreeing on many things like their game choices and preferences. Some may even fight and hurt each other, especially because they are unsupervised most of the time. 

After such disagreements, they practice conflict resolution and reconciliation by themselves or through a mediator. Some fights may require adult intervention to help them resolve the conflict. 

Skills in conflict resolution are timeless. They are even more helpful in adulthood when they need to confront bigger problems and solve conflicts in different areas of their lives. 

Mental Health and Stress Relief

  • The Connection between Play and Happiness

Humans are naturally playful beings as it helps the body to release stress and anxiety and replace them with a feeling of contentment and happiness. The body releases endorphins, which are neurotransmitters that help the body release tension and feel happier. 

Classwork can be stressful, especially when there is no recess between lessons. Recess allows the children to play around for 10-20 minutes between classes. This allows them to relax their mind and get ready for the next class. 

  • Importance of Breaks for Cognitive Functions

A child’s focus in class depends on how well they can concentrate as you teach. Normally, a child’s attention span is about three times their age. For example, if a child is 10 years old, they may have full concentration for about 30 minutes and then get distracted. 

Therefore, to ensure optimal concentration during a period, students should have a short recess to help them relax their minds and re-focus on class work. Similarly, a break will help prevent burnout and enhance good memory retention. 

Encouraging Creativity and Imagination

  • The Value of Unstructured Play

When children are allowed to play in an unstructured manner, their brains explode with creativity. They often act out most things they see on their screens or create their own characters and play out the script.  

For example, you may see children act out a wedding where there is a groom, bride, mother of the bride, and mother of the groom. If the friend group is large, they may choose a few maids to serve the bride and do it as they see from adults. Therefore, recess allows children to explore their creativity and bring out different personalities. It also helps them learn discipline and responsibility for their actions. 

  • Cultivating Problem-Solving Skills

When children play together, they want to express their personalities, what they like, and how they like things done. Unfortunately, conflicts may arise between them because of their differences. 

When these children can solve their conflicts and reconcile with each other, they cultivate their problem-solving skills and can interact better with others. These skills remain with them even when they are adults and help them navigate challenges in life. 

Connection with Nature

  • The Benefits of Outdoor Recess

With the introduction of digital devices that have children’s content online, most children are hooked on them all the time, that they forget to play outdoors. This is how obesity creeps in because they hardly do any physical activities. 

They also begin to get pale skin because they are no longer in the sun for replenishment. However, recess can help solve this problem and allow children to play outdoors, where they can breathe in fresh air, get some sun, and connect with nature. 


While many school systems are more focused on getting children to complete the syllabus and do well in their tests, they forget that recess is a key contributor to their overall success. Improved brain function, development of life skills, and cultivating creativity are all reasons why recess is important.


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