In the hustle and bustle of the modern education system, recess often gets overlooked or shortened.

As a former kindergarten teacher, I do not agree with limiting unstructured play for the young children. 

Afterall, research consistently highlights the profound benefits of play for a child’s development.

In this blog post, I am advocating for longer recess time in the elementary years.

You will find ten compelling reasons why young children deserve an extended opportunity for play during their school day.

10 Reasons why kids need more recess

Let’s dive in and discover the transformative power of a longer recess time for our little ones.

10 Benefits of Recess for Kids

Enhanced Physical Health:

Extended recess time allows children to engage in active play.  This promotes physical fitness, coordination, and gross motor skill development.

Activities such as running, jumping, climbing, and playing games all contribute to a healthier childhood. 

The physical activities help reduce the risk of childhood obesity and related health issues.

10 Reasons why kids need more recess

Improved Cognitive Function:

Unstructured play during recess stimulates the brain, supporting cognitive development.

It enhances attention span, problem-solving skills, and critical thinking abilities.

Children engaged in play are more focused and better equipped to absorb and retain information when they return to the classroom.

Creativity and Imagination:

A longer recess time provides children with ample opportunities for imaginative play.

With longer recess time, they can engage in meaningful role-playing, storytelling, and creating imaginary worlds.

This fosters creativity, original thinking, and the ability to approach problems from multiple perspectives.

Social Skills Development:

Extended recess time allows children to interact and socialize with their peers in a less structured setting.

They learn valuable skills such as communication, cooperation, negotiation, and conflict resolution.

Building friendships and navigating social dynamics during playtime contribute to their emotional intelligence and overall well-being.

10 Reasons why kids need more recess

Stress Reduction:

A longer recess provides a vital break from the demands and pressures of the academic environment.

It gives children a chance to release energy, reduce stress, and refresh their minds.

Outdoor play, in particular, has a calming effect, promoting relaxation and emotional well-being.

Improved Behavior and Focus:

When children have more time for free play, they are better able to regulate their behavior and manage their impulses.

The opportunity to engage in physical activities and social interactions during recess helps release pent-up energy and leads to increased focus and better classroom behavior.

Problem-solving Skills:

During longer recess periods, children encounter various challenges and conflicts that require problem-solving.

They learn to navigate these situations independently, building resilience, adaptability, and creative problem-solving skills that will benefit them throughout their lives.

10 Reasons why kids need more recess

Increased Independence and Decision-making:

Extended recess time offers children more autonomy and freedom to make choices.

They have the opportunity to explore different activities, develop decision-making skills, and take responsibility for their own play.

This promotes independence, self-confidence, and a sense of ownership over their own experiences.

Emotional Regulation:

Play is an excellent outlet for children to express and regulate their emotions.

A longer recess time provides them with the space and opportunity to work through their feelings, cope with challenges, and develop emotional resilience.

It promotes a healthier emotional balance and overall well-being.

Love for Learning:

Play is the natural way in which children learn.

A longer recess time fosters a positive association with school and learning, as children have the chance to engage in enjoyable, self-directed activities.

They become more enthusiastic about attending school, leading to greater academic motivation and success.  Afterall, our goal is to keep learning fun!

10 Reasons why kids need more recess

Suggested Recess Time for Kids

Sadly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States recommends elementary school children only have at least 20 minutes of recess per day. 

After teaching for 17 years, and a mom of 2, I can easily say 20 minutes of recess is not even close to enough!

As a professional educator, I witnessed how lack of play negatively effects the kids emotional state, physical health, and readiness to learn.

Interesting enough, after researching the recommended play time for early childhood, I found the following:

  • Kids ages 3-5:  This age group should have at least 2 hours of active playtime per day.

  • Kids 6-12:  These school-age children should have a minimum of 1 hour of moderate to vigorous play each day.
10 Reasons why kids need more recess


The benefits of extended recess time for young children are undeniable. It promotes their physical health, cognitive development, social skills, and emotional well-being.

Longer recess periods offer children the chance to recharge, explore, create, and learn through play.

By recognizing the importance of unstructured play, we lay the foundation for a well-rounded education and support the overall growth and development of our children.

Before you go, here are more posts you’ll enjoy:

The Amazing Benefits of Nursery Rhymes for Kids

15 Important Benefits of Playtime

11 Benefits of Kids Playing Outside

25 Fun Bikes for Kids

10 Reasons why kids need more recess