How Recess Can Help Build Students’ Social Skills and Relationships

Recess offers students a break from the classroom, an often demanding and structured environment. In fact, recess plays a crucial role in a child’s school day by giving time for unstructured play, allowing kids to relax and, hopefully, to get out outside. More than just free time, recess is a valuable opportunity for students to develop their social skills and build relationships.

This time can be used to promote social skills and relationships among students in a myriad of ways. One critical aspect is providing a safe space for children to interact with their classmates. Children naturally develop these skills through experience with play. However, educators and administrators can help build skills too.

Inclusive Play Spaces

Creating inclusive play spaces is an important part in the development of students’ social skills. Children of all abilities should feel welcomed and have the chance to be a part of the play experience. Games that encourage teamwork and collaboration help foster a sense of community, and designing play spaces that are adaptable to everyone’s needs allows children to recognize and meaningfully interact with their peers of all abilities. Check out our 8 keys to inclusion here.

A Model for Positive Behavior

Educators play a part in the process by encouraging students to exhibit positive behavior, offering help during conflicts that may arise, and engaging in games and activities with students. Their presence and involvement shows the importance of fostering social skills while also building strong relationships in and out of the classroom.

A study from Oregon State University found that adults are one of the most important entities on the playground. The more adults engage with and play with students at recess, the more kids play and there is more physical activity and less conflicts. Schools that ranked highly on these measures saw associated positive outcomes in classroom behavior and socio-emotional markers.

Skill Building

Recess encourages a culture of community and belonging, stemming from interactions that bring about other valuable skills related to communication and socialization, such as leadership, cooperation, compromise, sharing, conflict resolution, problem-solving, coping skills, negotiation, and perseverance. That is a list worth investing in.

Teaching Conflict Resolution

Recess presents an opportunity for students to learn how to navigate social conflicts on their own and with supervision. It is important for children to learn how to overcome their own disagreements. When needed, supervisors can also step in to help reach a positive resolution while modeling good behavior. Introducing games and activities that incorporate conflict resolution is an additional way to foster these skills.

The recent allocation of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding can be used to enhance play spaces, ensuring they are not only fun but also safe and inclusive spaces for students to gather. ESSER III funds must be committed by Sept. 30, 2024, and district leaders have flexibility when it comes to how best to use them to meet the needs of their school communities. Improvements and enhancements to outdoor play equipment qualify for ESSER funds.

Playworld Preferred offers the products you need to create an exciting school play space, including a variety of playground equipment, shade structures, safety surfacing, and site furnishings for when kids want to take a break from playing.

Contact Playworld Preferred today to discuss your school playground project.