As growing emphasis is placed on academic testing and performance of younger students in schools nationwide, teachers are seeing less and less emphasis placed on the importance of unstructured, free play on school grounds. In response, the International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association (IPEMA) set out to prove just how important recess time is, as well as its impact on academics.
In conjunction with Voice of Play and Wakefield Research, IPEMA collected input from five hundred U.S. elementary school teachers to better assess the impact of school playground equipment in today’s educational facilities. Significant improvements in student attention and behavior in the classroom post recess were unanimously noted by teachers. More time spent on the playground translated to better adherence to lesson plans in the classroom. Post survey, the IPEMA identified these three elements as the preferred way to play:
- Unstructured &
- On the playground
In addition, of the five hundred teachers that were surveyed, one hundred percent agreed recess is essential for both the physical and mental development of young children.
Other notable findings included the following:
- Ninety seven percent of teachers agreed recess improves the conduct of students who tend to misbehave.
- Ninety five percent reported improvements in students’ social interactions that play together on school playground equipment.
- Two out of three teachers reported using recess as incentive for students to behave better in the classroom.
The survey was conducted to shed light on the positive impact of outside play on both academics and behavior in the classroom in the hopes that schools will continue to include recess as part of the school day. Tom Norquist, President of IPEMA explains “play shouldn’t be seen as extracurricular or a form of punishment, or even optional, but rather a right for every child…play is essential to a child’s development, so it’s exciting to see teachers are aligned with scientific evidence of the developmental benefits of a playful recess.” Read more about IPEMA’s position on the importance of recess in schools here.
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