How Physical Play is Critical to Boost Child Development and Student Performance

Written by on .

The Importance of Recess

USA Today reports that around 40% of US elementary schools have either reduced or eliminated recess completely. Some schools have chosen to do this in order to punish their students who have exhibited bad behavior. According to a 2009 study in the journal, Pediatrics, this is a counterproductive measure. They report that children behave better in the classroom when they are able to go outdoors and play at recess. The US Play Coalition reports that many other countries with top-ranking students allow their children to play more frequently than the United States. For example, in Finland and Turkey, children receive 15 minutes of play after each 45 minute session of schoolwork they complete.


Student Behavior and Academic Performance

According to studies conducted by Amika, Singh, senior researcher at VU University in the Netherlands, the more physical activity that children have in school, the higher their math, English and reading scores are. Her report, published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine showed that children who participate in physical activity scored higher on standardized tests and earned higher GPAs. Instead of impairing performance in school, play may actually improve grades.

According to the US Play Coalition, research conducted with fourth grade children showed that they were “less fidgety and more on-task” when they had recess. Their research also indicated that children perform better on literacy tasks and raise their hands more often after they have had recess. Recess allows time for the brain to regroup. Research indicates that recall is improved when learning is spaced out, rather than condensed. After recess is over, children are more eager to learn as they feel more relaxed and invigorated.

Social and Emotional Development

According a report by the US Play Coalition, “Through play, children learn respect for rules, self-discipline and control of aggression, develop problem-solving and planning strategies, practice leadership, resolve conflicts, develop an understanding of playing by the rules and associate with children of other ethnicities.” Play is an essential element to children developing socially and emotionally. Recess is a time where children are free to choose what they wish to do and who they wish to do it with.

Through playing with others, children learn to negotiate, cooperate and share. Play works to help develop friendships and create elevated levels of emotional maturity in the child as their self-esteem and self-confidence are raised. Singh says that physically active children adhere better to the rules of the classroom and generally get along better with their teacher and their classmates.


Play and Physical Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and The American Heart Association, children over the age of 2 should have about one hour of moderate, enjoyable physical activity every day to remain healthy. Physical health is enhanced through play, as it works to build muscle control and strength. It is important to note that children may accumulate up to 40% of their total daily physical activity during recess, which furthers its importance. This also decreases the risk of developing coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, obesity and other chronic health conditions.

Mental Benefits of Play

Singh explains that when children become more active, as in play situations, blood flow to the brain is improved. This delivers more oxygen to cells involved in both the student’s attention levels and learning capabilities. She further explains that hormones which improve mood and fight stress improve after a healthy play session. Contributing to children’s fine motor skills and gross motor development, play also increases a child’s body awareness as they actively use their bodies.



Playtime is important for children because it makes them feel good about themselves, and quite simply because they enjoy it so much. They learn easier when they become relaxed and memories are created when they experience fun times with their friends. Even when children play hard, they become excited when they have the freedom to control their bodies and actions. When they are able to say, “I did it!” they get to feel good about themselves as a result.

Salt Lake City Commercial Playground Equipment

Component Playgrounds is concerned with the health and well being of our nation’s children. As a result, we have designed a line of play equipment that promotes a healthy and active lifestyle for children of all ages. Our line of commercial grade fitness equipment is designed to encourage physical fitness by providing a wide range of events for the playground environment that build strength, agility and self confidence.Component Playgrounds  has been building swingsets for over 30 years. We back our equipment with a limited lifetime warranty, and all parts are made locally in Salt Lake City, Utah. Our knowledgable, friendly staff will help you take our playground componenets and make the perfect commercial swing set for your unique needs.