5 April 2010 11:15 AM

Kids Need Phys Ed and Recess

by rbavaria

There’s a lot of talk lately about childhood obesity, about kids spending too much time with their noses in some kind of video screen, large or small, and about schools canceling recess and physical education classes in their race to better test scores.


Enough talk!


Anyone with an ounce of common sense knows that kids need to expend energy, that they get fidgety and unable to concentrate after focusing on classwork for long periods, that they need a break periodically, just as we adults do.  There’s a ton of research – look up the recent report from The American Academy of Pediatrics  – that shows the many benefits of regularly scheduled recess and physical education classes for kids of all ages.

  1. Free recess is healthy.  Unstructured time for kids gives kids a break, lets them go outdoors for some fresh air, refreshes them for learning later in the day, provides time for moderate exercise, and helps prevent fatigue.  Just like we adults feel energized after a good session on the treadmill.

  2. So is structured recess.  Supervised and structured recess and physical education classes help to build good sportsmanship, establish rule-following through games, and stresses the importance of teamwork.  These teamwork skills – working together, helping each other, working toward a common goal – easily translate into improved classroom behavior.  And in later life.  We adults call them “life skills.”

  3. Recess and physical education build social skills.  Teachers spend less time dealing with behavioral problems when kids are ready to learn and working together.  Kids learn to manage their own groups and teams, to resolve minor conflicts among themselves, and to recognize the special needs and special skills of their friends and playmates.     

  4. Recess and physical education build physical health.  Exercise combats childhood obesity, enhances kids’ health, gets them breathing hard, sweating a little bit, and up off their behinds.  Combine this with letting them have a voice in what games they play, and you’ve encouraged some healthy habits.

  5. It’s fun.  Face it, it’s okay to have fun in school.  Or before and after school, too, for that matter.  Kids need the opportunities to play with girls and boys in other classes, to teach and learn from each other, to expand their circle of friends, to raise their spirits, and to enjoy each other’s company.

Advocate for plenty of time for kids to get exercise in your school.  Don’t let anyone tell you that recess and/or physical education classes are being cut because of “test scores.”  School is for building knowledge, skills, and healthy habits.  Insist on it.  And don’t forget that you can insist on healthy habits at home too.




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