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Katherine Lee

Recess Helps Kids Do Better in School

By March 10, 2009

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Imagine how you might feel if you had to work all day at a desk with little or no breaks. Restless? Unable to focus? Even cranky?

For children, who naturally have more energy to burn, being required to sit for hours on end during a school day can actually work against learning, says a new study in the February issue of Pediatrics. Researchers looked at a national database of 11,000 kids aged 8 and 9 and found that those who had at least 15 minutes of recess during the day had better classroom behavior than those who had no free time to play.

In the U.S., the trend has been toward focusing more on academics, even in the early grades. Often, that's translated into less time spent on the playground at school. In comparison, many schools in Asia give kids 10-minute breaks every 40 or 50 minutes.

According to the study, regular breaks can play a significant role in learning, health and social development. The researchers say as little as 20 minutes of run-around time a day can help children focus better, and can boost creativity and develop social skills. And of course, given the rising rates of obesity, a little extra exercise during the school day can be a good thing.

So check into how much break time your child is getting during the school day. If you feel like it isn't enough, talk with your child's teacher about getting in some more downtime.

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