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Importance of recess for elementary school students

Posted by Dr. Julian Reed on Feb 16, 2017 7:20:00 AM
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I've spent over a decade examining the link between physical activity and academic achievement and cognition among students. Understanding how movement affects student outcomes—from health and fitness to achievement—has been the focus of my research with thousands of young learners. I wanted to share with you some information about the importance of recess for elementary school students.

In Recess in Schools, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines recess this way.

"Recess is a regularly scheduled period in the school day for physical activity and play that is monitored by trained staff or volunteers. During recess, students are encouraged to be physically active and engaged with their peers in activities of their choice . . . ."

According to The Crucial Role of Recess in School, a policy statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), recess is important for a variety of reasons. The policy statement says, "A growing body of evidence suggests that recess promotes not only physical health and social development but also cognitive performance." In addition,

"Recess is a necessary break in the day for optimizing a child’s social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development. In essence, recess should be considered a child’s personal time, and it should not be withheld for academic or punitive reasons."

The CDC states, "Recess benefits students by:

  • Increasing their level of physical activity
  • Improving their memory, attention, and concentration
  • Helping them stay on-task in the classroom
  • Reducing disruptive behavior in the classroom
  • Improving their social and emotional development (e.g., learning how to share and negotiate)."

A recent article from NPR highlights Thomasville Primary School in Thomasville, NC, a school where evidence-based strategies around recess have been put into pratice.

Looking for more information about recess? Learn more here: Strategies for Recess in Schools. 

I know that movement during recess and throughout the school day is important for students. I founded ActivEd and created Walkabouts to help teachers integrate movement with language arts, reading, and math lessons in just a few clicks.

Want to learn more about why movement in the classroom is so important? Download our white paper today to read more about the science behind Walkabouts.

Interested in seeing Walkabouts in action?

 View Sample Walkabouts

Topics: Dr. Julian Reed, move to learn, recess

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Walkabouts are online adventures that transform math, language arts, and reading fundamentals into standards-based, movement-rich lessons for Pre-K through second grade students. At ActivEd, we know that kids learn more, are more engaged, and are healthier when they are active both in and out of the classroom. 


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