Tara Parker-Pope, The 3 R’s? A Forth Is Crucial, Too: Recess, New York Times, Feb. 24, 2009, D5.
The best way to increase children’s performance in the classroom may be to take them out of it. New research suggests that play and down time may be as important to a child’s academic experience as reading, science, and math, and that regular recess, fitness or nature time can influence behavior, concentration, and even grades. A study published this month in the journal Pediatrics studied links between recess and classroom behavior among 11,000 children ages 8 and 9. Those with more than 15 minutes per day of recess showed better behavior even after controlling for sex, ethnicity, public or private school and class size. In January of 2009 Harvard researchers reported in the Journal of School Health that the more physical fitness tests children passed, the better they did on academic tests. Dr. Stuart Brown is the author of the new book “Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul (Avery). He works with educators and legislators to promote the importance of preserving playtime in the schools.