Thursday, February 26, 2009

They Need Recess and Ideally, Regular Doses of Nature Too

This New York Times article addresses these topics:

1. Kids need recess, more than 15 minutes a day.
2. Kids should not be punished by teachers to remove recess.
3. Being outside in nature is better than being outside in an urban setting (study done to prove it).
4. All kids benefit from time in nature, it helps them with learning.
5. ADD/ADHD kids benefit from time in nature especially.

"A small study of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder last year found that walks outdoors appeared to improve scores on tests of attention and concentration. Notably, children who took walks in natural settings did better than those who walked in urban areas, according to the report, published online in August in The Journal of Attention Disorders. The researchers found that a dose of nature worked as well as a dose of medication to improve concentration, or even better.

Andrea Faber Taylor, a child environment and behavior researcher at the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory at the University of Illinois, says other research suggests that all children, not just those with attention problems, can benefit from spending time in nature during the school day. In another study of children who live in public housing, girls who had access to green courtyards scored better on concentration tests than those who did not.

The reason may be that the brain uses two forms of attention. “Directed” attention allows us to concentrate on work, reading and tests, while “involuntary” attention takes over when we’re distracted by things like running water, crying babies, a beautiful view or a pet that crawls onto our lap.

Directed attention is a limited resource. Long hours in front of a computer or studying for a test can leave us feeling fatigued. But spending time in natural settings appears to activate involuntary attention, giving the brain’s directed attention time to rest. "

Article Title: The 3 R’s? A Fourth Is Crucial, Too: Recess
By: Tara Parker-Pope
Date: 2/23/09
Published in: New York Times

Homeschoolers take note and apply it in your family. Schools should take note and change their policies.

In my town the elementary school rearranged the day so the kids have a lunch then a short recess after (45 minutes for both things). In other words they have only one real break in the day. I personally would think that the lunch time should be one break (short) and then at least one other separate recess (just recess). My town does not have recess in middle school (grades 6-8).

When I was in elementary and middle school both, we had a morning outdoor recess and ate snack while outside. We had a lunch only indoors (no recess connected to lunch). We also had gym class that was additional time for movement and was outdoors in good weather and in fall and spring.

This topic of kids needing recess and kids needing time outside and in nature has been discused over and over and over, all pointing to the same recommendations. However public schools still seem to resist change. They blame NCLB and the need to have additional academic time to teach the government required academic content.

This was said in the article:

"The lead researcher, Dr. Romina M. Barros, a pediatrician and an assistant clinical professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, said the findings were important because many schools did not view recess as essential to education."

Will the school administrators get it now?

This is a good example of "studies show children need THIS THING but public schools refuse to implement it". I don't get that mindset at all. Schools should care both about the health of the kids (discussed in the article that time outside and breaks help children's health), and schools should care about academic success. Anything to help ADHD kids attend to their studies and to excel should be considered for implementation too. So with all that points to the need for recess, for more recess, and to not punish kids by taking away recess, why don't schools CHANGE THEIR WAYS? Can someone explain it to me? Where is the logic? Why are the schools not applying what is right and best for children, even when there are studies to prove what is being said and even when physicians say it is right and best?

Hat Tip:
My friend K. via email

Related Topics

Charlotte Mason, an educator who lived over a hundred years ago who inspires home educators, advocated for daily time outside in nature for all children

Book: Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Naure Deficit Disorder


Angie Phipps said...

Well, at least I'm doing something right. Living in rural East Tennessee gives us plenty of nature and outdoor time. In really nice weather we do school work outside, too! My hyper boys need plenty of time outdoors climbing trees, building forts, finding treasures, and riding bikes. Whenever I notice they're unable to focus because they have too much energy, we usually take a "recess" time. Outdoor time really helps!

Miriam's Art Journal BLOG said...

My son is very hyper indoors....the minute we take him out he's fine....happy, normal....the minute we take him into nature....he flourishes......part of the reason we are looking to relocate, so that he has more time in nature...outdoors wth less pavement