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Another Reason for Recess

As if we needed more proof about the importance of physical activity for children, we have a new government review of research that confirms that children who take activity breaks during the school day are often better able to concentrate on their lessons.  They may even score better on standardized tests.

Jump_rope  Studies show that recess can improve students’ attention so that they can better stay on task.  The same results appear for increased time in physical education.  The study also reveals what some elementary teachers have known for years:  Letting kids take short breaks to do jumping jacks or march in place to music helps kids return to their academic tasks with greater interest and enthusiasm.  And finally, participating in extracurricular sports or intramurals can improve students’ attendance, grades, and graduation rates.  The study was released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Adolescent and School Health.

Over the last decade the trend has been to reduce recess or playtime so that kids could focus on preparing for state tests.  Even without research, the move seemed counterintuitive to some teachers. Kids need air and sunlight and unstructured play in the early years along with organized games and team sports as they mature.  And as Charlene Burgeson of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education says, “Sometimes it doesn’t take more money as much as more creativity and imagination.”

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