By Ken Reed
A suburban Denver school district has decided that the best way to increase the academic performance of its students is to cut recess time.
The research says the school district couldn’t be more wrong.
According to an article by Ann Schimke posted on chalkbeat.org, elementary children in Adams 14 school district get about 15 minutes of recess time a day, but as little as seven minutes on some days, according to teachers.
Cutting recess time — along with the equally troubling national trend of cutting the number of physical education classes students are required to take — is a completely misguided and inappropriate strategy for increasing academic performance. In fact, based on a growing mound of research, it’s the exact opposite of what needs to be done to not only boost academic performance, but also decrease health and behavioral problems.
“I honestly think it’s going to bring (test) scores down,” says Hanson Elementary teacher Jodi Connelly. “To tell them you’re going to have to sit in a chair all day long … and have things put in your head …. That’s not how they’re wired.”
No, it’s not how kids are wired. And it’s not what their bodies or brains need.
Over 75 percent of American children are not even active for 20 minutes a day! The country is in the midst of a childhood obesity crisis. We need to get our children moving more to improve their short and long-term health.
But let’s put the positive health benefits of getting kids more active to the side for a minute. The fact is, cardiovascular exercise also positively impacts the brain and academic performance. Kids would be much better served going for a vigorous 20-minute walk before a test than studying for an extra 20 minutes.
“Exercise is like Miracle-Gro for the brain,” says Dr. John Ratey, author of SPARK: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. “It grows brain cells.”
The “Father of Aerobics,” Dr. Kenneth Cooper, founder of the Cooper Aerobics Center in Dallas, Texas, concurs with Ratey.
“Students at schools with daily fitness-oriented physical education programs are reaping benefits of being physically fit: 1) improved health; 2) higher academic performance; and 3) fewer behavioral problems. There’s more good news. Exercise has also been shown to improve attention span and focus, lower anxiety and depression levels, and raise self-esteem.”
Educators and school board members in Colorado’s Adams 14 school district who pushed for, and implemented, this irresponsible plan are committing educational malpractice. They, and any other like-minded school districts, need to be stopped.
The clear solution to academic, behavioral and health challenges is more recess and P.E. time, not less.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.” We discuss overzealous adults in youth sports, the dangers of sport specialization, youth sports entrepreneurs and the profit-at-all-costs mindset, and the growing socio-economic gap in youth sports.
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Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan.
Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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