More Recess Time Leads to Better Classroom Behavior

Pediatricians should promote free play as essential for healthy brain development
By Rick Ansorge
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Jan. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Elementary school-age students who receive at least one daily recess period of 15 minutes or more are likely to show better behavior in the classroom, according to study findings published in the February issue of Pediatrics.

Romina M. Barros, M.D., of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, N.Y., and colleagues analyzed data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998-1999, third-grade data set, on children aged 8 and 9 and their teachers' ratings of class behavior.

The investigators found that 30 percent of the children had either no recess or a minimal recess of less than 15 minutes per day. Such children were more likely to be black, have lower socioeconomic status, live in large cities, and reside in the South or Northeast. The researchers report greater amounts of recess time were associated with a significantly higher teachers' rating of classroom behavior.

"Pediatricians have a unique and important opportunity to promote free play as an essential part of childhood, emphasizing that play is necessary for healthy development and optimal brain development," the authors conclude. "Pediatricians who serve as advisors in their communities can advocate free play in school and in after-school programs and can advise parents to learn about recess and physical activity provided by the school before they select a school program for their child."

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