Recess crucial for learning, pediatricians say

Recess isn’t just time for kids to goof off.

It provides an essential respite from the rigors of the classroom, and it shouldn’t be skipped because of academic schedules or withheld as punishment.

That’s according to a new policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics, published in the January issue of the group’s journal, Pediatrics.

Physical education classes have been scaled back during the budget crunch of the past few years, and although recess isn’t a substitute for P.E., it’s a complement to it, for several reasons, according to the pediatricians’ group:

• It lets kids move their bodies and blow off steam

• It allows them a needed break from “rigorous cognitive tasks”

• It feeds the imagination

• It helps develop social skills.

Yet, according to the statement, “recent surveys and studies have indicated a trend toward reducing recess to accommodate additional time for academic subjects in addition to its withdrawal for punitive or behavioral reasons.”

Children returning from a period of recess, and adolescents after a similar kind of break, tend to be more attentive and perform better in the classroom, the doctors group says.