Recess and Play

Once in a while, one can in fact stumble at some nuggets of wisdom in social media. A candidate for local office is stating that classrooms will be built for public schools with the help of a provincial governor and a senator. It was not in this statement where I found a rare insightful point. It was in one comment to this post that said that primary schools should not be regarded only as buildings with classrooms. Children need recess. Children need a place to play.

Recess and play are different from physical education

Although recess and play increase physical activity that builds strength and fitness, and improves health, free play among children is so much more than just physical education. Anthony D. Pellegrini and Catherine M. Bohn-Gettler have provided a good summary of what research says about the Benefits of Recess in Primary School. Research supports the notion that recess and free play are important for the following: physical fitness, classroom behavior, social skills, and cognitive skills and achievement.

To understand one important aspect of recess and free play, here is a paragraph shared by Valerie Strauss on the Washington Post. These are originally from Timbernook's founder, Angela Hanscom.
A child’s neurological system is designed to naturally seek out the sensory input it needs on its own. For instance, if a child is spinning around in circles, it is because they are ready for that sensory input. Another child may not need or want to spin. In fact, it may make them sick to their stomach. Maybe this child needs to have some quiet time to dig in the dirt. A third child may be jumping off a small rock over and over again, because their body is ready for this challenge. The child is the best indicator on what type of movement they need at any given time.
Thinking of primary schools only in terms of classrooms does look at child development in the same narrow sense as focusing solely on academics. Elementary schools not only need classrooms but space where children can grow as children should.