It is where kids go during recess, to make friends and develop important social skills. But a new study done by the Albert Einstein School of Medicine suggests it may also have a crucial role in a child’s education. The study found that children who receive at least 15 minutes of recess each day not only behave better, but learn more.
Ed Smith Elementary School in Syracuse believes in this study wholeheartedly.
“They go out rain or shine. It would have to be a terrible storm or minus temperatures,” says Principal Daryl Hall.
Even though New York State does not have a recess requirement, Ed Smith School schedules each grade level a separate 30 minute slot of outdoor recess in addition to lunch. For some of the school’s students, this may be the only time they get outside all day.
PTO President Lisa Neville says, “Some neighborhoods are safe and comfortable enough for children to play outside and many aren’t. Kids need to get outside and have unstructured free time, or recess, because we don’t know for sure they get it at home.”
A special task force of parents and teachers raised $40,000 to build a new playground for kids to choose to do whatever they want during recess.
But local pediatrician, Dr. Robert Dracker, is not convinced that unstructured free time is worthwhile because it takes away from time that could be used for a child’s development or education. But Dr. Dracker does say it is important for the kids to go outdoors because they don’t go outside enough anymore.
Hall says Ed Smith School recognizes the need for structured activities and provides students with brain gym, or breaks and activities in classrooms throughout the day. But both doctor and principal agree that going outdoors for recess is a priority.