Texas School’s Key to Engaged Students: More Recess


While many schools are cutting down on breaks to squeeze in more lessons, a Texas elementary school has added recess time for its youngest students — with promising results.

The doors of Eagle Mountain Elementary in Fort Worth, Texas, open four times a day to let energetic kindergarteners and first-graders bound onto the playground. They now enjoy two 15-minute breaks in the morning and two in the afternoon for a total of one hour of recess a day. That’s three times longer and three more breaks than they used to get. Regardless of the weather, the children always go outside to play games or swing into the air.

“There was a part of me that was very nervous about it,” Donna McBride, a first-grade teacher at the school, told TODAY Parents.

“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.”

Now that they’re five months into the experiment, the teacher is totally on-board. Her students are less fidgety and more focused, she said. They listen more attentively, follow directions and try to solve problems on their own instead of coming to the teacher to fix everything. There are fewer discipline issues.

“We’re seeing really good results,” she noted.

Eagle Mountain Elementary is one of four public schools in the Fort Worth area trying out LiiNK, a new program that boosts the amount of recess for the youngest students. The hope is that the additional play time will help children focus and learn better once they’re back in class. And, so far, so good.

“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,” said Debbie Rhea, a kinesiology professor at Texas Christian University who created the project.

Bonus for parents: By expending that extra energy, the kids may also be tired enough to, you know, actually go to bed AT THEIR BEDTIME! Well, maybe. (A mom can dream.)



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