Although schools all over the country are cutting back on recess time, or cutting it out altogether, Eagle Mountain Elementary in Fort Worth, TX has decided to go the opposite way and give their kindergartners and first graders- the most active of elementary students- triple the amount of recess. And it’s paying off in a big way.

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Rather than just 20 minutes of recess each day the kids get an hour total, but it’s broken up into four 15-minute breaks. And they still get a lunchtime break, too!

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“Eagle Mountain is one of dozens of schools in Texas, Oklahoma and California testing out extra recess time as part of a three-year trial. The pilot program is modeled after the Finnish school system, whose students get some of the best scores in the world in reading, math and science.

The designer of the program — called LiiNK — is kinesiologist Debbie Rhea of Texas Christian University. Rhea spent 6 weeks in Finland in 2012 to discover the secret of their success.”1

What Rhea noticed right away was that students in Finland get way more recess than American kids (they also get little to no homework). In fact, in Finland kids get 15 minutes of unstructured outdoor play after every 45 minutes of instruction. Honestly, that approach just makes sense. The more hyper-focused you are the more your brain will need a break in order to function at an optimum level.

The most important part of the program is that play is unstructured and preferably outside; “fresh air, natural light and vivid colors all have a big impact on brain function.”2

While some of the teachers were nervous initially about keeping their classrooms on track academically, many have found they are now actually ahead of schedule. And teachers report that their kids are far less fidgety or distracted and are more engaged.

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If you are a parent or an educator, what do you think about this? Would you consider fighting for this at your child’s school?

Sources and References

  1. Return to Now, November 21, 2017.
  2. Return to Now, November 21, 2017.