Is more recess the solution to academic success?

Schools are always on the quest to fit in more math, reading, and other subjects – unfortunately the only way to make that happen is to cut out recess, a cornerstone of elementary school.

National estimates from 2005 report that first graders in U.S. public schools average less than 28 minutes of recess a day, and sixth graders get roughly 24 minutes a day, according to the Huffington Post.

The Finnish system has acted as the inspiration to an alternate model some that some schools have recently adopted. This model sprinkles short breaks throughout the day in hopes to encourage schools to add back in those precious, unstructured recess minutes to the school day and curb student burnout.

Founded by Debbie Rhea, associate dean of research in Harris College of Nursing and Health Sciences with Texas Christian University, the “LiiNK Project” program hopes to foster intangibles like empathy and restructure the recess modeled after Finnish schools.

In a conversation with the Huffington Post, Rhea reiterates the importance of the character development curriculum. However, it’s her call for more free playtime for students that has made waves around the United States.

Rhea points out that the break is great for the kids, and for the teachers too.

LiiNK is now being used in kindergarten and first grade classrooms of some public and private schools mostly in Texas. Participating classrooms give students four 15-minute breaks a day – two in the morning and two in the afternoon.

The program has its own criteria to measure success, including measuring misbehavior during recess and off-task behavior during lessons. This is done by watching students for 10-second intervals, 10 times per day.

Teachers have noted an improvement in students who frequently ask to go to the bathroom or get a drink, and say students are more imaginative during the recess time allotted to them.

Parents also say they children don’t seem to have the same urge to burn energy when they get home from school.

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