The Importance of Recess

Excerpt from 'The Importance of Recess" in Harvard Mental Health Letter August 2009

Children have less free play or unstructured time in school now than they did 30 or 40 years ago. . . . To meet the demands of the [No Child Left Behind Act of 2001] administrators have cut back on recess, arts programs, and physical education.

Children are less fidgety and more attentive after recess. Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg, a pediatrician at the University of Pennsylvania, described play as essential for healthy brain development, with positive effects for intellectual and emotional development. It promotes not just intelligence but also creativity, imagination, and resilience.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that play, particularly active and creative play, will help children be more successful.

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