“It’s hard to tease apart the exact reason for this association,” said Becky Hashim, an attending clinical psychologist and assistant professor in the departments of psychiatry and pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Montefiore, in New York City.
“It may be that the children are getting more oxygen. When the heart and lungs are working at a higher capacity, it may allow the brain to work at peak performance. Children who are less fit may be sleepier during school,” she noted. “I personally feel that there’s probably a strong relationship between the confidence you get from being able to do something physical well and academic performance.”
It seems like a no-brainer to me, both as a teacher and a mother. Kids do better when they’ve had a chance to get outside and run around.
Schools in Finland know this: Finnish elementary school children receive an average of 75 minutes of recess a day compared to only 27 minutes in the United States. Essentially, they take a 15-minute break after every class.
And yet, as more and more studies emerge showing a clear link between fitness and better grades, it’s getting harder for children in the U.S. to get any exercise at school. Forty percent of schools across the country have either cut down on recess time or gotten rid of it altogether.
So it would be good if school administrators in the U.S. paid attention to this report. Increasing and improving recess, physical education, after-school physical activity and sports, are all great ideas for improving cognitive development, including grades, memory and concentration.
Across the U.S., scoring well on standardized tests has become the solitary goal for many school administrators. Can we please pay attention to studies like these, and get back to what makes sense?
Photo Credit: broeders1964
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