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This is Your Brain on Recess

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The best way to improve children's performance in the classroom may be to take them out of it.

Girl swinging from horizontal bars

New research suggests that play and down time may be as important to a child's academic experience as reading, science and math, and that regular recess, fitness or nature time can influence behavior, concentration and even grades, reports the New York Times.

A recent study found kids who had more than 15 minutes of recess a day showed better behavior in class than those who had little or none.

The lead researcher, Dr. Romina M. Barros, a pediatrician and an assistant clinical professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, said the findings were important because many schools did not view recess as essential to education. In fact, they found disadvantaged children were more likely to be denied recess.

"Sometimes you need data published for people at the educational level to start believing it has an impact," she said. "We should understand that kids need that break because the brain needs that break."

Also, teachers often punish children by taking away recess privileges. That strikes Dr. Barros as illogical. "Recess should be part of the curriculum," she said. "You don't punish a kid by having them miss math class, so kids shouldn't be punished by not getting recess."

Do you think kids learn during recess?

next: Classrooms are Standing Room Only
6 comments so far | Post a comment now
Kristen February 24, 2009, 5:20 PM

As a homeschooler this is a no brainer to me and many other homeschool moms that I know. Why on earth does it take a published study to get people moving and realize that it’s not good to sit in a classroom for 6+hours a day.

ame i. February 24, 2009, 5:37 PM

My 3rd grader goes to public school. Last year, the school had P.E. class every day, often followed by free-time on the playground. This year, they have P.E. twice a week and free-time a couple of times a month.
My 5th grader is in private school this year, due to the downward spiral our public system takes after a child reaches 5th grade. Although she attends a university prep school,they have P.E. twice a week and 30 minutes of recess every day.

solomompreneur February 24, 2009, 9:37 PM

YES! Children need physical and mental exercise. Humans are designed to and need to do both.

Joyce February 24, 2009, 11:46 PM

Duh! How can they not know this?

Micaela February 25, 2009, 12:46 PM

they haven’t noticed the coincidence of shortening recess & the increase of children with (supposed) ADD or ADHD??? My son’s 1st grade teacher tried making me put my child on ADD medication, & I refused, she also got reamed @ one of our meetings when she said she takes his recess privelege away when he fidgeted or whatever in class. The councelor advised her of what a stupid idea that was-this teacher also had about 7 or 8 kids already on the ADD/ADHD meds. How about teaching instead of medicating all your students??? I hated her, she finally retired.

Micaela February 25, 2009, 12:48 PM

Oh, & they have P.E. once a week, & about 15 min of recess a day AND!! They are not allowed to run-hmmmm….it is a mystery why our children are overweight & hyper….

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