Wayne Carter

Doubling Down on Recess to Achieve Academic Success

“I can’t imagine going back to teaching first grade without it,” one teacher said

Academic Success is the goal at school, with different ideas on how to get there.

At Greenfield Elementary, they think the answer lies on the playground.

Greenfield and several other schools in Eagle-Mountain Saginaw Independent School District have adopted a program called "Liink." It, among other character building traits, gives students four recess periods every day.

Jill Kite, a teacher at Greenfield Elementary School, wasn’t so sure about it.

“I was nervous because we always say we don’t have time for everything anyways,” Kite said.

Neither were many of the parents.

“I know the requirements of what they have to do, and I was like, 'how are they going to get it all in?'" asked Aimee Seaton, a mother of a Greenfield student.

But, they bought in Dr. Debbie Rhea from Texas Christian University, who has studied children's learning styles for years.

“Their bodies require the play experience,” Rhea said.

Rhea went to Finland to observe how recess was a huge part of the curriculum there and saw how the learning day became more effective when playtime was added.

“You’re not saying, 'turn around, face front, why do you need to go to the nurse? Why are you at the trash can? Why are you sharpening your pencil?'"

They’ve studied the distractions in class and found children were 40 percent more engaged when the program was implemented.

“I can’t imagine going back to teaching first grade without it,” Kite said.

Teachers see success, parents say their kids don’t come home bouncing off the wall, and the kids, as you might guess, they think it’s essential, too. Chance Lawrence told us he uses recess as his time to think.

Despite the rave reviews, Rhea isn’t ready to declare success. They’re gathering more data to see just how well the students are growing academically.

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