Every day, rain or shine, the elementary children gather outdoors on the school grounds to enjoy a different type of work: the work of play. While their mornings are filled with lessons and mental work, their afternoons are filled with work of the social realm. It is important to recognize that there is also plenty of this type of work that occurs during work cycles, as children learn to negotiate and work together on projects or work, but here, the social is the main focus.
During the second plane of development, which occurs between 6 and 12 years of age, children focus on the exploration of mind and personality, as well as moral and social independence. Playing games during recess fulfills a great deal in this sense; children must navigate what to play, with whom, and how to keep a game going when there is conflict or disagreement. Problem solving through play and social interactions can greatly enhance critical thinking skills. There is so much more going on during recess than initially meets the eye!
Self-control, compromise, sportsmanship, and cooperation are all essential to the second plane of development. Children of this plane are also extremely preoccupied with fairness, justice, and following rules.
According to The Absorbent Mind, a child of the second plane is very focused on right and wrong; “this not only as regards his own actions, but also the actions of others…..moral consciousness is being formed and this leads later to the social sense.” (p. 177) What better time to hone these skills than recess?
Read more about why kids need recess here.