Recess x 5: Daily recess policy supports the connection between child’s play and learning


Sept. 5, 2013

SAISD elementary school students are getting more time on the playground this year to burn off energy, hone their social skills and fire up the brain, thanks to an administrative policy change that mandates 15 consecutive minutes of recess during the school day.

The District, with guidance from the School Health Advisory Council (SHAC), has revised its recess policy to ensure that the unstructured time to run and play be built into campus schedules as a separate period. In the past, the District recommended daily recess but did not require it, so the amount of time for and frequency of recess varied by campus. The recess is in addition to the three days a week of P.E. classes.
Schools are able to preserve instructional time and allow for daily recess because the District added 15 minutes to the school day at the elementary school level this year. “The SHAC, being the body that looks at the overall health of schools and students, saw this as a no-brainer,” said Nicole Foy, chair of the advisory group and an SAISD parent. “All the research points to the fact that movement, being outdoors and unstructured breaks help make students smarter. Blood flow to the brain inspires kids' thinking and creativity.”
The SHAC was among a list of entities and organizations in support of requiring daily recess. Others include the SAISD Foundation, Mayor’s Fitness Council, Metro Health and the San Antonio Alliance of Teachers and Support Personnel.“We are excited to work with our community advisory group to implement a policy that can only benefit our students,” said Roger Rodriguez, SAISD’s senior coordinator for Physical Education and Health. “Recess provides all-around benefits, including helping students achieve fitness and lower their risk of obesity.”
Studies have shown a positive relationship between physical activity and academic performance. In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a review of 50 studies that looked at 251 associations between school-based physical activity and academic performance among school-aged youth.
Of all the associations studied, there were positive relationships between physical activity and academic performance in slightly more than half.
Eight of the 50 studies explored the relationship between academic performance and recess during the school day in elementary schools. All eight found one or more positive associations between recess and indicators of cognitive skills, attitudes and academic behavior.The SAISD change took effect on the first day of school, Aug. 26, and is in addition to the state requirement that all elementary school students receive a minimum of 135 minutes of structured physical activity per week, which is delivered through P.E. classes.

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