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Kids Learn Better After Breaks

Dr Bob Murray Quote on Attention, On Task Behavior and Movement Breaks

A recent article on NPR entitled “Turns Out Monkey Bars And Kickball Might Be Good For The Brain” discusses a school in Texas that has increased recess to 15 minutes 4 times per day for kindergarteners and first graders.  The leader of the changes is a kinesiologist who based the program on Finland schools.   Many of the teachers are noticing changes in their students behaviors and ability to stay on task.

Dr. Robert Murray previously compiled research for the  American Academy of Pediatrics suggesting that kids with regular recess behave better, are physically healthier and exhibit stronger social and emotional development.  The policy statement is entitled “The Crucial Role of Recess in School”.  The researchers recommend the following:

  1. “Recess is a necessary break in the day for optimizing a child’s social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development.”  Don’t withhold recess from children.
  2. “Cognitive processing and academic performance depend on regular breaks from concentrated classroom work.”  This is true for adolescents and young children.
  3. ” Recess is a complement to, but not a replacement for, physical education.” Recess allows for unstructured free time whereas physical education class in academically based and structured.
  4. “Recess can serve as a counterbalance to sedentary time.”  Recess time can help children to achieve the recommended 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per day.
  5. Recess should be safe and well supervised.”  Make sure there is well maintained equipment and safe surfaces to run and play.
  6. “Peer interactions during recess are a unique complement to the classroom.” If you over hear children during recess you will quickly observe that communication, negotiation and self regulation skills are developed on the playground.

Need ideas for movement breaks?  Check out all of the Brain Break titles for movement breaks throughout the school day or indoor recess ideas.

References:  Connelly, C.  Turns Out Monkey Bars And Kickball Might Be Good For The Brain. NPREd. Retrieved from the web on 1/5/16 at http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/01/03/460254858/turns-out-monkey-bars-and-kickball-are-good-for-the-brain

Murray, R et al.  The Crucial Role of Recess in School.  Pediatrics 2013;131;183; originally published online December 31, 2012; COUNCIL ON SCHOOL HEALTH. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2012-2993