Let kids play
© 2010 Roy Benaroch, MD
School has become far more intense since I was a kid. Kindergarteners are expected to read; first graders bubble in standardized tests; third graders are doing book reports, frantically re-reading The Old Man and the Sea by candlelight with a Vente Mocha. Are we working them too hard?
Researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine examined data from about 12,000 children aged 8-9, collected across many different schools in the USA in 2001. Their study correlated classroom behavior with the availability of routine recess time—time to get outside and play. No one ought to be surprised at the results: the children with no or little recess had far-worse classroom behavior than the kids who had time to run and play. In fact, more playtime equaled better behavior. If playtime were a medicine, higher doses (as expected) worked even better than low doses. The improved behavior was seen even after correcting for factors like overall classroom achievement, the income of the families, proportion of minority and disadvantaged students, and the proportion of boys in the class. Among all groups, more playtime led to better functioning in the classroom.
Is your child tough to handle, restless, jumpy, a noodge? Get him or her outside, playing. Playtime one “drug” that everyone needs. It helps kids focus and do well in school. And it’s cheaper than a trip to Starbucks!