The Great Recess Debate

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Story Updated: Jan 2, 2013

Ask any child what his favorite part of the school day is and you'll probably hear the word recess!

The American Academy of Pediatrics is jumping into the debate over whether recess is a necessary break or wasted time away from the books. The group's opinion: recess plays a crucial role in a child's development and should remain a regularly scheduled period.

In a new policy statement, this powerful group of pediatricians wants to make sure the trend towards dropping recess to make room for more academics doesn't continue. In fact, they'd like to see both recess and physical ed classes stay...and not allow gym class to replace recess.

The Academy says recess offers many important benefits for kids, especially when the play is unrestricted.

Beyond a mental health "break" during the day, growing evidence also links recess to better physical health, improved social skills and even higher cognitive development.

One final note: The AAP believes recess should never be withheld as a punishment...and suggests eliminating it can negatively affect academic achievement.

I'm Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV with the news doctors are reading health news for healthier living.

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