Testing the effect of recess


Everybody’s heard about Finland and all the recess breaks it gives its elementary students — a 15-minute break every hour. Blah-de-blah-de-blah. How can teachers be expected to take all that time off when there’s so much material to go through, and all that standardized testing?

Short answer — there’s no way to know how it will work until it’s been tried. In an article from KQED.org, an American teacher described his experience with 5th graders when trying out the American and then the Finnish model. Students were much more attentive throughout the entire day with frequent breaks. He found that the key to increased attentiveness wasn’t necessarily having kids go outside every hour…it was giving them free time. (And it was helpful for the teacher, too!)

An elementary school in Fort Worth, Texas, has expanded its recess time to an hour a day — two 15-minute breaks in the morning and two in the afternoon. A teacher there said her students are less fidgety and more focused because of the breaks. She said they listen more attentively, follow directions and try to solve problems on their own instead of coming to the teacher to fix everything. There are fewer discipline issues. “We’re seeing really good results,” she said.

If you would like to know what a school day with frequent recess would look like, or would like more information, there are some resources to help.


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