The American Academy of Pediatrics has just released a policy statement saying that supervised, unstructured (play oriented) recess in school is a vital part of a child’s development.  As they point out in the abstract to their statement:

”Recess is at the heart of a vigorous debate over the role of schools in promoting the optimal development of the whole child.  A growing trend toward reallocating time in school to accentuate the more academic subjects has put this important facet of a child’s school day at risk. 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.”’ (Pediatrics  Vol. 131,   No. 1, January 1, 2013, p. 183).

A 2010 Gallup poll of 1,951 principals and other school officials revealed that  77% reported eliminating recess as a punishment,  and 20% reported cutting recess time to meet testing requirements.   Clearly the unfortunate new push for academic “rigor” that has swept this country in recent years has contributed to this health risk for children, and this new policy statement from the APA hopefully will put educators straight on the important role that free unstructured supervised play has on children’s health, education, and overall well-being.

To read the policy statement in its entirety, click here.

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I am the author of 16 books including my latest: The Myth of the ADHD Child: 101 Ways to Improve Your Child's Behavior and Attention Span Without Drugs, Labels, or Coercion (Tarcher-Perigee).

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