Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Friday, June 08, 2012

Is Recess Coming Back?

In previous commentaries in this series, I have lamented the fact that so many elementary schools have abolished recess, and some new schools are even being built without playgrounds. Having raised both sons and daughters, I know that boys, especially, need to run around on the playground in mid-morning and mid-afternoon if they are to come back into the classroom and learn anything. They simply cannot sit still at a desk for as long as little girls are able to do.

Well, today I have a bit of encouraging news to tell you. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation just released a study that recommends creating something called structured recess. A functioning structured recess program has been developed by an organization called Playworks in Oakland, California. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation helped this program to expand from Oakland to more than 300 schools in 23 cities. Coaches set boundaries for different activities, help children pick teams, and teach simple ways to settle disputes. The Johnson Foundation then studied the program.

Researchers from Stanford University and Princeton looked at 25 schools in five cities last year that were randomly assigned to implement a structured recess provided by Playworks. The study found that this improved students' ability to focus on learning in class. Remarkably, the newspaper reported this news along with a picture of kids playing dodge ball. Dodge ball has been forbidden in most schools for quite a few years because the schools thought the game was too rough.

The Robert Wood Johnson study found that, on average, teachers at participating schools needed several fewer minutes of transition time between recess and learning time. That gives teachers more time to spend on instruction. The conclusion is that structured recess is a splendid idea, and I hope schools all over the country will adopt it.

Listen to the radio commentary here:

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