In 2008, Anthony D. Pellegrini raised a topic of paramount importance in terms of young children’s education and development. More specifically, the author discussed the value of recess, which had allegedly been diminished by the professional community. Pellegrini does not accept the views of recess as a merely playful activity that steals the time from more important academic disciplines. According to his perspective, it is a pivotal element of young children’s education, as it promotes socialization and provides insight into students’ behavior and competencies. For several decades, he has been an academic psychologist specializing in children’s early development at school. In the early 1990s, Pellegrini became interested in the debates surrounding the importance of recess. His professional environment and experience enabled in-depth observations of key tendencies in this regard. The discussion presented in this article is prompted by the persistent arguments against recess as an ineffective means of pastime. However, as suggested by Pellegrini’s insight, such activities are indispensable for the comprehensive development of young children.
The perspective of reduced recess time proponents establishes the context of the present discussion. Pellegrini (2008) reports that such views have been emerging in academic settings since the early 1990s. He artfully compares recess to short rest during workdays on assembly lines or long-distance driving. Nevertheless, as per the opposing views, breaks in kindergarten and elementary school are not essential. Moreover, it is claimed to distract children from meaningful activities by engaging them in games. The system encourages children to remain in a state of constant development through an increased emphasis on arithmetic and literacy. Under these circumstances, recess often becomes a perceived impediment on the path to better learning outcomes. To prevent the process from becoming monotonous, Pellegrini’s opponents often attempt to introduce more physical education. Overall, they believe that intensive, concentrated learning without breaks is to translate into enhanced competencies and better performance in young children.
On the other hand, the deliberate lack of attention to the benefits of recess is a one-sided perspective that may prove to be detrimental for students. Following decades of professional experience as an academic psychologist, Pellegrini (2008) remains convinced of the effectiveness of recess. Even short breaks amid exhausting or monotonous activities help people regain stamina and concentration. Similar to a driver who loses focus after several hours of driving, young children become easily distracted without playful breaks. Consequently, their ability to absorb new information shortly becomes depleted. Pellegrini (2008) argues that enhanced physical education cannot amend the issue. In fact, the primary value of recess consists of the stressless environment it creates for children. When students go to the playground, their actual personalities surface. They are no longer restrained by the imposing figure of teachers or academic boundaries. For educators, recess creates nearly endless opportunities in terms of observations. Experienced teachers and psychologists can analyze their students’ behavior, evaluating their ability to sympathize, cooperate, and think critically. All these components contribute to quality learning, adding a socialized dimension to the process and ensuring the value of recess.
My personal experience is in line with the views expressed by the author of this article. In fact, recess is integral to the learning process across all stages. At a young age, children naturally lack the level of attentiveness that is required for prolonged studies. When learning continues for an excessive period, even the most important topics will not be understood properly. In spite of educators’ efforts to present the material in an interesting form, children will be physically unable to respond effectively and memorize all that is important. As a result, they will form blank spaces in the curriculum that will only grow worse. As children mature, the material becomes more difficult and complex, as well. Accordingly, recess is bound to become a necessity, as, for example, in the case of physical activities.
Overall, without sufficient time to rest and regain focus, many students will inevitably begin to fail at their studies. Moreover, their social skills risk becoming underdeveloped without the required interaction with peers between classes. Anthony D. Pellegrini rightfully objects to the emerging views against recess. His academic experience introduces a point of view of immense value that puts the matter at hand from a professional perspective. As far as I am concerned, the importance of recess is not to be underestimated for all children of all ages. In this regard, the relentless pursuit of efficiency within the educational system may result in its further depreciation and even failure to provide the required results.
Pellegrini, A. D. (2008). the recess debate: A disjuncture between educational policy and scientific research. American Journal of Play, 1(2), 181–191.