The Importance of Free Time
"Middle School Doesn't Have Recess?"
One of the biggest differences between Elementary and Middle School is that there is no longer structured time for play. Developmentally, this might seem appropriate, as Middle Schoolers are beginning to blossom into young adults. However, the benefits of recess should be carried through to these years - and beyond - as well. These benefits include:
- Socialization: Allowing students to interact with peers in a less structured format encourages communication about relevant topics such as homework, friends, and making plans for after school. It also allows teachers to get to know students in another format.
- Releasing energy: Sitting still is hard for most youth (it is hard for most adults, too!) and science proves that sitting for long periods of time is detrimental to health and productivity. Having a chance to get rid of the some energy increases focus and memory as well.
- Skill building: Giving youth free time allows them to practice problem solving, taking turns, and team-building skills. They can also interact with other students at their school which can build appreciation for diversity.
It may not be possible to add recess into your middle schooler's day but you can do some of these things:
- Allow some free time after school
- Encourage your school to have regular Physical Education classes
- Ask what options your school offers during lunch or for "break" time to keep students active
- Enroll your student in a club or other after-school activity
Our goal is to empower youth as they grow into High Schoolers and beyond. By teaching them that life can incorporate appropriate breaks and free time, they can learn to organize time well, and to enjoy the time they have.