How Having More Playtime Helps Children Learn Better

A few extra minutes of recess a day might keep the doctor away

Oct 25, 2016
Special Collections: PLAY LIKE A KID
Finish children spend 15 minutes of playtime outside for every hour in the classroom. (Shutterstock)

Finish children spend 15 minutes of playtime outside for every hour in the classroom. (Shutterstock)

What’s the one thing every child wants in school? More recess! And that is exactly what some schools are giving students, which it turns out, is beneficial for everyone. Eagle Mountain Elementary School in Fort Worth, Texas, is one of four public schools implementing the LiiNK program, a project that increases recesses per day to boost creativity, foster character development, and heighten academic success.

Liink was inspired by Scandinavian approaches to learning based on the simple concept of giving children more outside playtime and less time spent indoors. In Finland, where the system has been in place for decades, students have some of the highest scores on global assessment tests. Instead of spending increasing amounts of time inside the classroom, they’re putting more and more focus on physical activity. Finish kids get to enjoy 15 minutes of playtime for every hour of class.

After spending six weeks in Finland In 2012, Debbie Rhea, the creator of Liink and professor at Texas Christian University, discovered that the additional breaks of “unstructured outdoor play” actually helped students improve their performance inside the classroom. “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,” she says.

Other studies have shown that outdoor playtime decreases restlessness, fidgeting, and has a whole other slew of benefits such as improved motor skills, physical fitness, and social development. Rhea started implementing the program in private schools in 2014, and has since expanded her program to districts in Texas, Oklahoma, Minnesota, and Utah and the children in these schools are all the happier for it. It just goes to show that the best way to raise happy and successful children, is to simply let them be kids every once in awhile.

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REBECCA WOJNO, CONTRIBUTOR
Rebecca is passionate about reading, cooking, and learning about people doing good in the world. She especially loves writing about wellness, personal growth, and relationships.
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