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04Dec 13

Why children need recreation time at home and at school

School recreation time is vital for our children to give their exhausted brains a rest and enjoy some exercise in the playground. But I have also found that it’s important to set aside time for fun activities at home. I encourage my kids Tom and Mary to run around for a while in the garden or play a board game indoors if it’s raining instead of sitting down immediately to do their maths or Spanish homework.

It is not easy for teachers or parents to find the right balance between work and play, but children need recreation time for many reasons.

Why children need recreation time at home and at school

Why children need recreation time at home and at school

Recreation – the fourth ‘r’

We all know that teachers are under pressure to drill reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic into their pupils, however young they may be. But what about the fourth “r” for recreation?

School curriculums are packed with a variety of subjects, and there are only so many hours in the school day, so the homework load can be staggering! It is particularly so for 10-year-old Tom, facing his grammar school entry exams next year.

As parents, we all want our children to score good marks, but not at the expense of their health and general well-being. Last month, I had to ask for an appointment with Tom’s form teacher because every day Tom was coming home tired, irritable and hardly able to keep his eyes open. It turned out that his class had been cramming for a test and their playground time had been suspended for a week! Their only break was 20 minutes for a packed lunch. No wonder my son was like a zombie!

Recreation fosters good behaviour

While not wishing to get on the wrong side of Tom’s teacher, I felt it was my duty as a parent to draw her attention to the following facts, well proven by paediatric researchers and educational gurus:

  • Children behave better in class even with just 15 minutes of break time a day. It allows them to re-charge their batteries before absorbing more information.
  • Running around, kicking a football or skipping in the playground may be the only exercise some children get during a school day.
  • Recreation time is learning time. When they start school, children enter a new social world in which they have to find their own identity and develop social skills.  Mixing with their peers at recreation time is part of this learning process.

You know the old saying: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Do your children get enough recreation time during the school day?

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