Building Students’ Social Skills and Relationships: How Recess Can Help

Recess allows students a break from the demands of the classroom, playing a crucial role in a child’s school day. Though engaging in unstructured play lets students relax and have fun, recess offers more than just free time: it is also a wonderful opportunity for students to develop their social skills and build relationships.

Recess can be used to promote social skills and relationships among students in several ways. Providing a safe space for children to interact with their peers is crucial. And while children naturally develop these skills through experience with play, educators and administrators can foster learning as well, even on the playground.

Inclusive Play Spaces

Creating inclusive play spaces is necessary for the development of social skills in all students, regardless of their level of mobility. Children of all abilities should feel welcomed and have the chance to be a part of the play experience, and designing play spaces that are adaptable to all needs allows children to recognize and interact meaningfully with their peers of all abilities. Games that encourage teamwork and collaboration help foster community, strengthening relationships and friendships that are important both in the classroom and at home. Check out our 8 keys to inclusion here.

A Model for Positive Behavior

Educators play a part in building students’ social skills by encouraging them to exhibit positive behavior, offering guidance during conflicts, and actively engaging in games and activities. Their presence and involvement around the playground 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, the more physical activity there is and the less conflict there is. 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:

  • Leadership
  • Cooperation
  • Compromise
  • Sharing
  • Conflict resolution
  • Problem-solving
  • Coping skills
  • Negotiation
  • Perseverance

Teaching Conflict Resolution

Recess presents an opportunity for students to learn how to navigate social conflicts both on their own and with supervision. It is important for children to learn the important life skill of sorting out their own disagreements. When needed, supervisors can intervene to reach a positive resolution and model good behavior. Introducing games and activities that incorporate conflict resolution is another way to foster these skills.

At Playworld, we have a deep understanding of how a beautifully designed and masterfully crafted playground can help school-aged children in their growth and development. As kids grow, you can count on our play equipment to be a constant source of fun. For decades, we’ve built playground equipment with a child’s best interest in mind.

We understand our role in inspiring and encouraging children to explore their world and learn fundamental life lessons in the process. It is evident that recess is a critical component of a well-rounded education and provides many benefits. In fact, ESSER funding, provided under the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, can be allocated for playground improvements as part of efforts to ensure safe and healthy learning environments for students.

Contact Playworld today so we can explore the possibilities with you.

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