30-Minute Recess – More Important Than You May Think

Sallie-Wells-headLetter from Head of School
As I was touring a prospective family for enrollment next year, they asked me about recess. We had a great discussion regarding the significance of recess. It was shared with me that at the school this family is currently at they have short 10 minute recesses a couple of times a day. This parent wanted to understand the difference between short 10 minute recesses and Clariden’s longer recess. There is a lot of research that shows the significance of recess and why recess is important for healthy development. Few will argue with recess as the research is quite clear. But why a longer recess over shorter ones? There is significant research that supports the need for recess to be at least 30-45 minutes in length for children to have the greatest learning and developmental outcomes. Why – you ask?

Well, let me ask you a question? When you engage in an activity how much time does it take for you to feel engaged? My hunch is that It takes longer than 10 minutes. As children develop their play during recess, they must determine who to play with, what to play, negotiate roles within that play, create the environment to support the play (i.e. build a fort) and then develop and engage in the play. To get to a place of flow – takes time – according to research – 30-45 minutes. Children need this time to develop and act out the roles they have created. Ten minutes is simply not enough time to engage in play. The social learning outcomes are great when time allows for lengthy engagement. Children gain collaboration skills, build problem solving skills, learn to negotiate and enhance their creativity as they act out and engage in play.

Recess is important and like anything in life, the more time spent at something the better and greater the outcome. The benefits from developed play establish a strong foundation for life and academic skills that promote and contribute significantly to a child’s success. At Clariden, we believe that longer recess, and the play that develops as a result of it, is crucial for our students and their ability to learn.

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