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Recess crucial for kids, say pediatricians


Twins Samuel and Pedro, 5-year-old orphans cared for by their grandmother, attend the Escolinha Comunitaria (community-based pre-school) in Guemulene Village in Xai Xai District of Mozambique.


Eileen Burke for Save the Children

Kids aren't getting enough recess at school, says the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The AAP "believes that recess is a crucial and necessary component of a child's development and, as such, it should not be withheld for punitive or academic reasons," according to ABC News.

"The AAP has, in recent years, tried to focus the attention of parents, school officials and policymakers on the fact that kids are losing their free play," said the AAP's Dr. Robert Murray, one of the lead authors of the statement. "We are over-structuring their day. ... They lose that creative free play, which we think is so important."

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The AAP committee began its research in 2007, and said it expected to find that recess is important as a physical outlet for children, reported TIME. What they ended up finding was that playtime's benefits are more than physical.

"We came to the realization that it really affects social, emotional and cognitive development in a much deeper way than we’d expected,” the statement said. "It helps children practice conflict resolution if we allow them unstructured play, and it lets them come back to class more ready to learn and less fidgety."

The statement cites two decades worth of scientific evidence, noted ABC News. Among this research is a study of 11,000 Grade-3 children that appeared in the journal Pediatrics in 2009. This study found that children who had little or no recess tended to behave worse in class and learn less than those who had at least 15 minutes of recess per day.