Kindergartners all across the country can’t sit still, can’t focus on schoolwork and are generally full of jitters. While most schools would push for more classroom time in order to fill the little minds with as much knowledge as possible, one school in Texas is leading the way on more study breaks (recess), and they are seeing improvements in the children’s behavior and academics.
Debbie Rhea is a kinesiology professor at Texas Christian University, and she created “LiiNK,” a project that was implemented at Brown Elementary in Irving, Texas. Children at Brown Elementary now enjoy almost three times as much free time as they did before. The hope is to see the child have more concentration for when they are in the classroom.
“You start putting 15 minutes of what I call reboot into these kids, every so often and… it gives the platform for them to be able to function at their best level,” Rhea says about her Liink project. The students in the Irving Independent School Dist now get four 15-min breaks a day. Two 15-min breaks in the morning hours and two 15-min breaks in the afternoon. The project has been in effect for five months and in that time teachers, parents and principle have already seen noticeable results.
Some teachers were unsure about the LiiNK theory at first, but are now seeing the genius behind it. Donna McBride is a First-grade teacher at Eagle Mountain Elementary in Fort Worth, Texas, who says that since they started the “LiiNK” project she has seen positive changes in how her students behave and how well they do their school work.
“I was trying to wrap my head around my class going outside four times a day and still being able to teach those children all the things they needed to learn,” she said. Despite McBride’s initial hesitance of more recess time, her students are better able to pay attention in class and do better in working diligently and independently.
Currently, many public schools across the nation only give children one, 15-minute break. For a 6-7 hour school day, that 15-minute break is just not enough.
“That’s not enough for kids. They’re not built that way,” Rhea said regarding one recess for the whole day. “[Recess] reboots the system so that when they go back in, they’re ready to learn, they’re focused.”
Rhea’s LiiNK project is in line with the American Academy of Pediatrics statement, “recess is a crucial and necessary component of a child’s development.” Rhea believes that fresh air, coupled with the unstructured play is necessary for healthy brain development in children.
Texas isn’t the only state wanting to jump on board the LiiNK’s mission, which is to put more play time into schools. Charter schools in Utah, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and districts in California have also expressed interest in the project.
Although it seems counter-intuitive to add more recess time as a way to increase academic progress, many experts like Debbie Rhea know that it’s necessary for a child’s health and flourishing. Thanks to the LiiNK program, many schools are seeing their once fidgety, distracted students become happy, hard-working ones.
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