Recess For A Better Workplace
Remember recess? That short window of escape between the complex calculations of grade school Algebra, and the monotonous lectures of Social Studies.
If you’re a Millennial (or younger), perhaps not. Fewer and fewer schools now offer this recreational time for children to get outside, romp around, and expel energy. But there’s a lot more happening in their developing minds during this time that should be considered when designing curriculums.
“The experience of play changes the connections of the neurons at the front end of your brain,” says Sergio Pellis , a researcher at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada.
Today, only 8 states have requirements for daily recess among elementary school students. Of these, only one state requires 20 minutes or more per day. Why? Schools are faced with incredible pressure from national, state, and local institutions to perform better. Increase test scores. Maximize instructional time. Kids are there to learn, not play!
But who says recess takes away from learning? New CDC guidelines suggest the exact opposite.
The CDC reports that just 20 minutes of daily recess leads to better physical health, a decline in disciplinary action, and lowered absenteeism. Recess fosters social and emotional development. It improves children’s memory, attention, and concentration. Overall, more active children consistently demonstrate higher scholastic achievement when compared to their inactive peers.
“Children need to engage in plenty of so-called free play”, Pellis says. “No coaches, no umpires, no rule books.”
“Whether it’s rough-and-tumble play or two kids deciding to build a sand castle together, the kids themselves have to negotiate, well, what are we going to do in this game? What are the rules we are going to follow?” Pellis says. “The brain builds new circuits in the prefrontal cortex to help it navigate these complex social interactions.”
Meanwhile, companies spend hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of dollars on wellness programs in an attempt to do exactly that. Improve employee health to lower premiums. Increase productivity. Decrease absenteeism. Foster collaborative and freethinking environments. Attract and retain talent through culture, and a team of happy employees. Yet most wellness programs suffer from dismally low participation rates.
While the CDC does suggest there should be guidelines to recess, it should not be so structured that it puts all students on the same playing field. Wellness programs should work much the same. Not all employees are interested in pumping iron at a gym, or sweating through a boot camp class. Companies need to recognize participation in a much wider range of healthy activity. Some employees may love running or cycling, while others prefer to chase their kids around in the backyard, walk the dog to a park, or spend peaceful time in the garden.
If we want to see positive results from wellness, and ultimately affect the bottom line, we must expand our scope beyond the traditional model. Create programs that focus on body AND mind. Engage employees on a personal level. Encourage them to create new experiences, healthy habits, and quality relationships. All of these factors will contribute to the overall success of our businesses. Happy healthy employees are productive employees.
Perhaps we all just need a little more recess. Discover Blipic.
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