The Importance and Impact of Recreational Activities in the Educational Curriculum

“All Work and no Play make Jack a dull boy” goes a popular saying.

The significance of this saying has increased manifold in today’s fast-paced and competitive world where students are forced by both their guardians and the conglomerate of society and situations as a whole to devote increasing hours in academic learning , whether theoretical or practical and knowledge enhancing activities so that they can stay ahead in the rat race. Add to that the present way of life where people mostly stay in small nuclear families and with parents working, the viability of our own home as a place where we can have recreational time has diminished.

What is recreation?

Recreation consists of activities or experiences carried on within leisure, usually chosen voluntarily by the participant – either because of satisfaction, pleasure or creative enrichment derived, or because he perceives certain personal or social values to be gained from them. It may, also be perceived as the process of participation, or as the emotional state derived from involvement.

Students, especially in higher education, now spend most of their time with college friends and outside of home for various purposes and work. Hence, in the current scenario, the best place to include recreational activities in one’s life is one’s place of education rather than at home. This not only provides a chance to include recreations in one’s life, but also helps students to socialize and become less dependent on one’s parents.

Before analyzing the effect of recreations in educational curriculum, it is important to know the impacts and necessity of recreations in one’s life as a whole. Due to the intricacies in present day society and the way of living, students nowadays are weaker than their older generations, both physically and emotionally. This gets reflected in their physical, emotional and mental health as well as their behavior and development which all the more calls for bestowing on recreations the importance that it deserves. Various studies have shown the importance of recreations on one’s life specifically in three aspects- physical health, mental health and improving quality of life.

  • Physical Health: Recreational activities, especially outdoor ones improve one’s health like maintaining lower body fat percentages, lowering blood and cholesterol levels, increasing muscular strength, flexibility, muscular endurance, body composition and cardiovascular endurance. Overall it increases one’s stamina and energy level resulting in more focus for academic activities besides also having an impact on one’s class attendance and attention thus leading to more learning. And as we all know “health is wealth”.
  • Mental Health: Mental health is essential for overall physical health. Recreational activities help manage stress. It provides a chance to nurture oneself and provides a sense of balance and self-esteem, which can directly reduce anxiety and depression. There is also an increased motivation to learn as it can serve as a laboratory for application of contents learnt in classrooms teaching. It provides a channel for releasing tension and anxiety thus facilitating emotional stability and resilience. Such activities help students to become more self-reliant, emphatic and self-disciplined.
  • Improved Quality of Life: People who make recreation a priority are more likely to feel satisfied with their lives overall, according to an American Recreation Coalition Study, 2000. Recreational activities help create a balance between academic pressures with physical and mental well-being. The effects of recreation are multifold. It enriches self-expression, self-fulfillment ability, interpersonal skills, techniques and methods of using leisure, physical strength, creative expression, and aesthetic sense. Such attributes have a favorable effect on human beings who have limits in everyday life. Therefore, recreation is allowed to be used as a tool of therapy (Lee, 2000). Physical activity-based recreation helps participants recover from the deteriorated physical strength, caused by the lack of exercise, and develops the latent ability to achieve self-realization. This also helps people to deal with common day to day problems more effectively as it makes people more optimists and with a positive outlook to life.

Coming to the point of including recreational activities in educational curriculum, it can be said that the present generation spends less of their time in natural surroundings leading to a weakening of senses both physiologically and psychologically. Guardians, academic institutions as well as the government should find out every possible opportunity to include recreations in a student’s life for an overall holistic development of mind and body. If such opportunities are lessening in a home set up, then it should be part of the educational curriculum where a student spends majority of his/her time. In fact, recreational activities in an educational set up will be academically more enriching for the student in many ways:

  • Students are more enthusiastic to learn in outdoor learning activities as compared to traditional indoor setting and also more motivated. They also develop a better attitude towards the environment and more responsible behavior
  • It helps in building communication skills and team building as students have to work in groups to solve problems. There will be more discussions of ideas and feedbacks and helps students to resolve conflict among themselves
  • It also helps in boosting memory as there is more practical experience and the information can be soaked up wholly by the brain in a more fresh and fascinating environment
  • It also helps in moral development as students get the opportunity to undertake leadership, question actions and regulations and accept responsibility for their own behavior.
  • Enhances peer relationships and interpersonal skills. Students can also excel in areas other than academics where they have an interest. Recreational activities can give a chance to discover talents other than academic excellence which can later help one in the career and life as a whole.

Overall it can be said that, recreational activities help in overall development of a student’s physically, mentally, and emotionally. It not only helps to gather knowledge but to use it ethically to lead a healthy and better life. It teaches one to think with reason and live with a more practical approach to life. It also enhances ones all round development, thus helping to achieve success in ones endeavors.

About the Author

Ms. Rituparna Devi is currently working as Junior Batch-in-Charge in Pune Institute of Business Management. Prior to this, she has worked as an Assistant Project Engineer in IIT Guwahati for 1.5 years. She holds Bachelors of Engineering Degree in Electronics & Communication from Tezpur Central University, Assam and MBA in Finance from National Institute of technology, Silchar.

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