Children need movement on a daily basis! There are so many benefits of allowing children time to engage in physical movement and heavy work activities that to me, it is almost a crime to prevent children from having their physical play time.
Allowing Children To Move Benefits Everyone
Children learn and grow through movement. They refine gross motor and sports skills and they increase their motor control, coordination, and muscle strength through movement. In addition, movement promotes cognition, organized behaviors, self esteem and self confidence, self regulation, a calm body, and attention.
When children sit for longer than 15 minutes at a time, their attention and concentration is reduced, and discipline problems begin to increase. When this happens, children are less available to learning, more energy is spent on behavior management by the teacher/parent and the children, and nobody wins.
All children benefit from a break in their mental focus. Recess provides opportunities for unstructured physical play, which allows kids to “blow off steam”, and reduces stress. Recess increases attention and on-task behaviors, and decreases fidgety behaviors.
Additionally, we have an epidemic of childhood obesity in our country, which is heavily impacted by a lack of physical activity. Physical activity during recess promotes the health of our children now and in their future. In general, the goal should be a minimum of one hour of exercise daily by the time your child reaches elementary school and thereafter.
Removing Or Skipping Recess Can Increase Undesired Behavior
One of the biggest mistakes a teacher or other adult can make is to keep a child inside for recess, especially if the reason is as a consequence for misbehavior, tardiness, or something the child did not do. Sometimes, a class cannot go out for recess because of weather. In this case, it is definitely best to allow the children to use the gym instead. If the gym is not available, doing animal walk races, yoga, or some other kind of movement based activities in their classroom will benefit everyone.
Requiring children to sit for longer periods of time without allowing relief through movement breaks is contradictory to what adults are asking children to do in terms of academic achievement, physical health, and emotional health. Their brains and bodies need breaks in order to achieve greater academic success.