How often do we think about recess time while structuring the school time-table? Most go with a 30-min block that serves as lunch time for all students, be it the J-school or the S-school. Have always wondered, what should be an ideal length of recess in a school? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines recess as “regularly scheduled periods within the elementary school day for unstructured physical activity and play.” Furthermore, there is sufficient data to suggest that free play time given in schools supports a child’s cognitive, physical, emotional and social well-being. However, it is seen that not only is recess time shrunk for students to accommodate extra classes but also used to address discipline issues. This action is not only punitive in nature, but also robs the child of time to think, form friendships, relax or leisurely move around.
It is often also observed that in senior school this time may be further diminished for academic related activities or simply as a mechanism to maintain discipline. After all, isn’t it easier to have them policed in a classroom!
The literature examining the global benefits of recess for a child’s cognitive, emotional, physical, and social well-being clearly articulates that the students of all age groups benefit from short breaks during the academic day. The Guardian in an article, ‘Where’s my lunch’ (Nov 2007) states that not only is the recess time being shortened but also being done so without any consultation with parents or students.
Academic benefits of having short breaks between lessons help relaxing the mind. After a restful break, students appear more attentive and involved in their learning. It is not important what the student does during the break but that they get one as any type of activity helps cognitive performance. Furthermore, the break not only help build social connect between students but also is a time that is used for reflection by students.