Sitting behind a desk for several hours each day can be tough, especially if you happen to be 5 years old. Every teacher knows how difficult keeping the attention of a small child can be, but you may be surprised how one school has learned to handle this situation and improve learning time. A Texas school is simply letting their younger students play outside more often throughout the day and seeing a greater level of focus and attention come class time.
Today reports about the recess experiment at Eagle Mountain Elementary in Fort Worth, Texas that is leaving teachers pleasantly surprised with the results. Both kindergarteners and first graders at this school are given recess 4 times at 15 minutes for each break, with a total of 1 hour of outdoor play each day. This is 3 times longer than the usual 20 minute recess most kids at this grade level get.
Everyone knows outdoor play is great for kids, but it’s not surprising that teachers at the school worried going outside 4 times a day might disrupt the flow of learning. Teacher at the school Donna McBride admits that she had her doubts that this could work. She says, “I was trying to wrap my head around my class going outside four times a day and still being able to teach those children all the things they needed to learn.”
But now after 5 months of trying out the new recess plan, McBride and other teachers and parents are pleased with how the kids have taken to the new schedule. McBride says, “We're seeing really good results.” Teachers report that their students fidget less, pay attention more, and solve problems more independently rather than going to the teacher all the time. Teachers are also reporting less behavior issues throughout the day.
Debbie Rhea, a kinesiology professor at Texas Christian University and creator the project that adds extra recess in the school day, explains how outdoor play is beneficial for a child’s learning process. She says, “You start putting 15 minutes of what I call reboot into these kids every so often and… it gives the platform for them to be able to function at their best level.” Rhea got the idea for the program after observing children in Finland receiving 15 minute breaks of “unstructured outdoor play” every hour of the school day. She believes this added play is part of the reason these students get some of the best scores in the world in reading, math, and science.
What do you think of the program implemented in this Texas school that allows children to have recess 4 times a day?
Do you think more schools should adopt this program?