Recess is an extremely important facet of education that is often overlooked. Students absorb more knowledge when they are given time to play, rest their minds, and just be kids — and this has been demonstrated regularly in countless studies. However, recess is currently under attack. Schools are cutting back on both recess hours and the age at which students no longer have it in their schedules. Combined with an exponential increase in computer, TV, and smartphone screen time, here are a few of the reasons why parents and educators should work to reverse this trend:

The First Social Decision Making

For many students, recess is where children first begin to develop the ability to make social decisions on their own. Who will they play with? What equipment will they use? Which games will they play? Inside the classroom, their lives are incredibly structured. Every minute is accounted for from the time they step into the school until the moment they leave in the afternoon. Recess affords them an opportunity to make friends, manage their time, and think about the playful tasks they would like to accomplish. Few students will experience a similar level of social interaction on a regular basis outside of school.

Well-Rounded Health

Recess and, to a lesser extent, physical education classes promote the general well-being of students. The physical benefits are obvious, and when obesity rates are soaring across all demographics, any and all physical activity is to be celebrated. However, the emotional and academic benefits are just as important to the developing mind. Recess affords young students a chance to decompress from the burdens of reading, writing, math, etc. They can then return to the classroom with their excess energy spent and minds refreshed for the final half of the school day.

Growing a Healthy Appetite

It’s no secret that diets, by and large, have suffered over the past few decades with the proliferation of processed, fast, and junk foods. Getting kids to eat fruits and vegetables is an age-old problem, but one of the most effective ways to promote good eating habits in young people is to hold recess before lunch. A recent study found that a majority of students ate more fruits and vegetables when recess was held before lunch instead of after, which continues to be the most common time to hold recess.

The scientific community continues to debate and research recess, but there is no doubt that this cherished part of elementary school plays a fundamental role in shaping the academic careers of millions of students. As one of the largest suppliers and installers of park equipment in the United States, here at MRC we understand how important it is that your students receive the very best in school playground equipment. We have made it our mission to ensure that every student is afforded the opportunity to reach their full academic, social, and emotional potential while also just getting to be a kid.