Let kids play

The Pediatric Insider

© 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!

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3 Comments on “Let kids play”


  1. […] post by Dr. Roy var addthis_language = 'en'; Filed under 221642 ← Things I’ve Learned In […]

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  2. Sylvia Says:

    I HATE to see how the school system has shifted over the years. I was told my child who just turned three was behind because he wasn’t picking up his letters in a couple of weeks. Every teacher I’ve spoken to says the same thing… we’re expecting way too much out of our little guys. Now if you have suggestions for how to lobby, support, whatever to change it, I’m all ears!

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  3. Kelly Says:

    I completely agree with you, Dr. Roy. Children definitely need time to simply play. Our public school systems should be allowing this important time in the school day.

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