The time is needed by younger children to let off stream and learn to get along with others.
Dr. Romina Barros and a team of colleagues at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York recently published in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics their findings from a study of more than 10,000 children. They concluded that children aged 8 and 9 need at least 15 minutes of recess per day to function better in class.
The benefits of recess are wide spread. Health, learning and social development each benefit from even the smallest amount of free time.
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 has lead many school districts to reduce time for recess, arts and physical education so that they can focus on reading and mathematics.
Recess has taken the hardest hit with this program focusing on test scores and not the human element. Educators argue that shaving time from the playground is not in place in an instruction devoted to academics.
"The big thing in this country now is standards," Marie Diamond, president of the Connecticut Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, stated in a recent Hartford Courant interview.
"We've raised the bar; our standards are higher," says Diamond. At the same time, she adds, "The majority of kids need some time for recess, just like people in offices need coffee breaks."
These schools tend to be in poorer areas, have a larger black population and inside the inner city.
"This raises concern in light of evidence that many children from disadvantaged backgrounds are not free to roam their neighborhoods or even their own yards unless they are accompanied by adults," the team said. "For many of these children, recess periods may be the only opportunity for them to practice their social skills with other children."
There are also realistic fears that the children are in danger while on the playground from outside sources.
Another factor on eliminating recess is the sheer size of the average classroom in these areas. With overcrowding the spaces that the schools once used for recess or physical education are now being needed for additional classroom space.
Not only do the children suffer from lack of social skills but their health takes a back seat. Childhood obesity needs to be addressed by offering more instead of less activities where children can be physical.
The amount of free time at school has reduced since the 1970's. While the children in the United States spend more and more time sitting at a desk children in Asia are spending more time relaxing. Asian schoolchildren tend to have a 10 minute break for every 40 to 50 minutes of education. Asian children are also topping the school test scores.