5 Reasons Children Need Time To Play At School


It’s getting harder for children to get any exercise at school. Forty percent of schools across the country have either cut down on recess time or gotten rid of it altogether. Hours devoted to physical education are also down compared to previous generations, and often P.E. amounts to nothing more than kids being told to run around the schoolyard.

Five Reasons Children Need To Play At School:

Cognitive development: Numerous studies show how much better students do at school once they have moved around, stepped outside and got the oxygen flowing. Studies show that just being exposed to the outdoors can improve memory, concentration and grades. The pace of play in nature is self-regulated and thus can increase attention span and stimulate the senses.

Physical development: The decline of playtime in our schools is closely link to childhood weight problems. With one third of our youngsters either overweight or obese, this is a serious issue. Most adolescents fall short of the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommendation of at least 60 minutes of aerobic physical activity each day. Daily, quality physical education in school can help students meet the Guidelines. However, in 2009 only 33% attended daily physical education classes.

* Creativity: Kids today are becoming less creative and imaginative than they used to be. In a 2010 study of about 300,000 creativity tests going back to the 1970s, Kyung Hee Kim, a creativity researcher at the College of William and Mary, found creativity has decreased among American children in recent years. Since 1990, children have become less able to produce unique and unusual ideas. They are also less humorous, less imaginative and less able to elaborate on ideas, Kim said.

* Mind and body: Children in Finnish elementary schools—who get an average of 75 minutes of recess a day — consistently rank higher than U.S. children in International Student Assessment Scores. (By comparison, the U.S. average is 27 minutes a day.) In comparison to the United States and many other industrialized nations, the Finns have implemented a radically different model of educational reform — based on a balanced curriculum and professionalization, not testing.

* Too much busywork: Reviews of homework studies reveal very little correlation between the amount of homework and achievement in elementary school. One of the best-known experts, Harris Cooper, Ph.D, a professor and director of education at Duke University, has reviewed over a hundred studies on the effectiveness of homework. In general, he has found that the benefits of doing homework depend on the student’s grade level. In elementary school it has no measurable effect on achievement, although it may help children develop good study skills.

Let’s give children time to play at school!

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Photo Credit: iStock


Naomi Dreyer
Naomi Dreyer11 months ago

I definately agree! Children need physical activity during the school day. Play, sports, music and art are very important for their healthy developement.

Duane B.
.4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Fiona T.
Past Member 4 years ago

They need exercises on their body and mind

Natasha Salgado
Past Member 4 years ago

Everyone needs and benefits greatly from playtime!!!! It should be mandatory.

Sheri J.
Sheri J4 years ago

whatever helps.

Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra4 years ago

Thank you Judy, for Sharing this!

federico bortoletto

Il gioco è importante non solo per i bambini e i ragazzi ma dovrebbe essere importante anche per gli adulti.

Johanna V.
Johanna V.5 years ago

children get injured more playing organized sports. Recess should be a time to unplug from the technologies of today. Children today are suffering from something called nature deficit disorder, meaning that they dont get enough time outside with unstructured play, Richard Louv's book "Last Child in the Woods" explains it more thoroughly.

Lucy H.
Lucy H5 years ago

"Children in Finnish elementary schools—who get an average of 75 minutes of recess a day — consistently rank higher than U.S. children in International Student Assessment Scores."

One more reason to have Finnish educators come to this country and help implement their system here. And yet, I keep hearing from educators that I know that the Finnish system won't work here because "Finnish is a mono-culture and we're multi-cultural". Seems to me it that every child, regardless of cultural heritage, benefits from more playtime.

Zuzana K.
Zuzana K5 years ago

It depends how the time to play is used. Definitely PE should be a good idea, with meaningful sports or a choice (that's how it was in our school each semester we chose what sport to do and so looked forward to PE rather than just being told to run around).
But recess definitely not - all the kids just play video games/ipod or just chat so are sedetary anyway. Indeed in my native country they were thinking of making recesses shorter and eliminating shorter ones (5 mins in between each lesson plus one 20 min large break) there was lots of outrage about it so they kept the recess - but my cousin was upset - I think he makes a valid point - recess takes up time which instead of having it, could be made to make school shorter, so can go home earlier - this way at home they can have playtime.
Definitely increasing PE would be a good idea, but should be more enjoyable and varied to make it something to look forward , rather than like the experience of George Costanza from Seinfeld and his evil teacher Mr Heyman.