Active recess helps Lake Crystal students get focused and ready to learn
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that children, ages 6 through 17, get at least 60 minutes of daily physical activity.
Since children spend the majority of their day at school, it’s important to get kids moving whenever possible during the school day, including at recess, so they are more focused and ready to learn back in the classroom.
Through the Active Schools Minnesota initiative, the Minnesota Departments of Health and Education are working with SHIP grantees across Minnesota to support schools in increasing physical activity opportunities to reach that 60-minute mark.
Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial Elementary School in Lake Crystal partnered with Be Well, the SHIP grantee in Blue Earth County, to make recess more active.
"Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial created a model on how health can be improved for all students with a little planning," said Kristen Friedrichs, Be Well SHIP coordinator. "They looked at how their students' recess experience could be improved."
We want to get kids close to having 60 active minutes every day. - Jennifer Bierma
The active recess approach involves a variety of planned and actively supervised games or activities that engages all students. Active recess also includes investment in equipment and marking activity zones on playgrounds.
The school used a SHIP grant to buy recess gear and sent recess staff to a training on how to keep students active and engaged during recess.
"This focus really helps us keep kids moving during recess," said Jennifer Bierma, one of the school’s recess supervisors. "We want to get kids close to having 60 active minutes every day."
Play time releases energy, reduces stress and encourages healthy lifestyles
Before the grant, a lot of the students stood around and talked during recess. There wasn’t enough equipment available for everyone to play at the same time. Three grades are out on the playground simultaneously and those that got to the balls first used them until recess ended.
There are now multiple football, basketball and kickball games going on at the same time, kids are jumping rope and about 20 of them work together regularly to keep a parachute moving.
Recess isn’t intended to replace physical education. It’s about getting children moving and participating in developmentally appropriate play that lets them release energy while reducing stress and preparing them mentally to re-enter a classroom.
"With better health, kids miss fewer school days and with more active participation they eat better at lunch," Bierma said. "They are more alert and focused the rest of their day."
"This really changed the school’s culture," Friedrichs said. "Not all of the kids play sports, but active recess gives all of them a chance to move more and that creates an opportunity for them to learn lifelong physical activities."