A new study about increasing classroom performance caught the eyes of staff at ACET and we wanted it to share it with you. The study linked regular recess and play opportunities to better classroom performance and a decrease in bullying and student conflict, and was conducted by Mathematica Policy Research and the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities at Stanford University.
In the study, 14 schools across the United States partnered with Playworks, an Oakland, California non-profit devoted to providing low-income schools with physical activity options and other play events such as game times. Playworks provided schools with trained coaches and, in some cases, junior coach programs where students were recruited to monitor recess times alongside adults. Students, teachers, principals, and coaches were interviewed and surveyed about their experiences with the program and what changes, positive and negative, they saw in student relationships, academic outcomes, and classroom behaviors. Students and teachers reported feeling engaged by Playworks’ coaches’ programs and their use of positive messaging and conflict resolution strategies (for example, using a game of rock-paper-scissors to solve a dispute) as they pertained to playground interactions, though students did not report a decrease in student aggression or perception of aggression. Teachers with Playworks programs in their schools reported faster transition times between recess and learning than schools that did not have Playworks programs. Principals from all schools that received Playworks services reported a need for the organization’s presence in their schools for the coming year.
According to an advisor from the study’s sponsor, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, “These new findings… tell us that kids better relate with one another, resolve conflicts constructively, get plenty of physical activity on the playground, and return to class focused and ready to learn. Increasingly, health and education leaders are recognizing that recess and play are effective ways to strengthen schools and foster children’s social, emotional, and physical development.”