Recess time a vital part of kids' holistic development

I read Ms Irene Louis' letter ("Late lunches not healthy for schoolkids"; Jan 21) with empathy.

My son, who is in primary school, also has a similar schedule. He starts school at 7.45am and finishes at 1.30pm or 2pm, and there is only one 30-minute recess in between.

In addition, there are two afternoons in the week when the upper-primary pupils have to stay in school for supplementary and remedial classes until as late as 5pm.

When I shared my view about the issue with the school, the principal said that if the pupils are hungry, the teachers can, at their discretion, allow their pupils to have a dry snack in class.

I am not sure if the school administration realises that there is a lot more to recess than merely satisfying one's hunger pangs.

Recess in school is necessary because it helps promote the development of every aspect of a child - social, emotional and intellectual.

Recess provides time for pupils to process information learnt in class and allows efforts to be distributed across a longer stretch of time, so that pupils can learn better and faster.

It reduces stress by giving pupils a break from the intense learning in the classroom.

It provides opportunities for pupils to make their own decisions for unstructured play and gives time for children from different classes to interact and socialise. They also get to go out of the classroom and enjoy the outdoors.

I hope the Ministry of Education and schools will take another look at school timetables, and see recess not as a luxury but as a critical part of the holistic development of every child.

Poh Leong Joo

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 24, 2017, with the headline 'Recess time a vital part of kids' holistic development'. Print Edition | Subscribe