Play, Then Eat

This is a cross-post at WeAretheRealDeal tonight.

While away last week, I saw this article (“Play, Then Eat: Shift May Bring Gains at School”) in the New York Times and e-mailed it to myself to write a blog post about it, in the event that none of our other bloggers covered it first.

We know that all around the country, due to budget constraints, schools are cutting out recess and physical education classes. And, no surprise, children are getting heavier. Unhealthier.

This scares me, because for many kids, gym class and/or recess are possibly the only physical activity they get all day. Naturally, I’m an advocate for both gym class and recess.

But apparently, for schools that are fortunate enough to still have recess, the timing of it (i.e., before lunch vs. after lunch) can actually make a difference in a child’s health and behavior.

Per the article, “Some experts think it can, and now some schools are rescheduling recess — sending students out to play before they sit down for lunch. The switch appears to have led to some surprising changes in both cafeteria and classroom. Schools that have tried it report that when children play before lunch, there is less food waste and higher consumption of milk, fruit and vegetables. And some teachers say there are fewer behavior problems.”

Sounds like a win-win situation to me. And I can totally see how this makes sense.

I grew up in rural northern N.J., where, in elementary school, we had a “Walk/Run” program before lunch. It didn’t matter if it was 6 or 66 degrees outside, we had to move a little before lunch.

We could wiggle, walk, waltz with our friends for that daily loop … anything to unwind and move before hitting up the cafeteria. Maybe my school was on to something? After lunch we had a more traditional recess, and then resumed our normal classroom activities … until the next day when we’d repeat this cycle all over again.

I’d have to talk to my old teachers to see if they noticed a real difference in students’ behavior pre-Walk/Run program (it was always part of my school day as far back as I could remember) but, given the article’s assertions, I can only imagine it helped.

Seems to me if switching recess/activity pre-lunch can help kids’ behavior in the classroom and health … well, all the better.

How about you? Do your kids have recess and/or gym class still, and if so, is recess before lunch or after? Has the timing impacted their behavior?

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