A Healthy School Climate Through Recess Enhancement


Can Exercise Promote a Healthy School Climate?

A common concern and goal of districts we consult with has to do with maintaining a positive, respectful climate between students and school staff. Implementing the right structure and recourse, such as with PBIS, helps to ensure that all those supporting students are on the same page. However, problems can arise during unstructured times, and many schools need help in maintaining a safe and supportive environment.

This is where a well-designed Recess Enhancement program that supports students through:

-Trusted relationships
-Character education and positive coaching
-Fun and engaging games that get them exercising

Positive coaching, and especially exercise, can make all the difference in supporting calm, focus, on-task-time, positive affect, and more contributing factors to a healthy and positive school climate.

Meta-Analysis Insights: A 2020 meta-analysis study revealed that in age groups undergoing rapid change (such as preadolescent children), aerobic exercise can be used to prepare for situations requiring high executive control. [1] This can be directed at nearly all learning and academic objectives during the school day. It can also help students manage big emotions which too often lead to consequential behaviors.

Where Most Schools Are At: On average, school districts in the U.S. provide 1-3 physical education classes per week averaging 30-45 minutes. This gives students a range of 30-135 minutes of structured physical activity per week. The CDC, however, recommends that children and adolescents aged 6-17 years should have 60 minutes or more of physical activity a day. [2] The burden doesn’t fall solely to schools, but the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences, recommends that schools should provide at least 150 active minutes per week for students K-6. [3] That means active play at school, even at the high end of P.E. scheduling, falls at least 13% short and up to 80% at the low end!

Parents are concerned. In combination with increasing technology-driven sedentary lifestyles, about 70% of parents report their child’s school does not provide daily, structured physical education. [4] Unstructured recess is the status quo and definitely better than nothing, but there’s so much more available.

Where Schools Are Taking the Lead: As with so many aspects of quality education, we see schools taking the lead on providing adequate opportunities and high quality programs to add to students active minutes outside of scheduled P.E. classes.

  1. Robla School District (here in Sacramento) is training staff to be certified yoga teachers for students. They have also implemented daily walks in the community (with the help of 70 parent volunteers!) to boost active minutes by 30 a week. It’s a start, and it’s this kind of initiative that makes all the difference.
  2. Elk Grove Unified School District (6th largest district in CA and Assist Programs partner at 43 elementary school sites) takes a comprehensive approach to overall health recognizing that healthy bodies and healthy minds contribute to increased academic performance, improved attendance and positive behavior for healthy learning.
  3. Los Angeles Unified School District has a strong focus on physical education as a core part of their curriculum. Recognizing the link between physical fitness and academic achievement, they ensure that quality physical education is provided for all students. LAUSD offers various resources and guided physical activities, including yoga and cardio exercises, to promote lifelong physical activity habits among students.

You probably have a similar vision and policy, but you shouldn’t have to do it alone.

We View This as an Opportunity: Assist’s during-the-day Recess Enhancement program brings qualified, trained, and cleared staff to your campus to facilitate safe, fun and inclusive play during breaks. Our custom curriculum blends structured activities, physical education and skills building with social-emotional learning (SEL), positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS), and character strengths development.

In short, your students will flock to their trusted, safe, and FUN Assist Coach, quickly organizing games and getting kids moving while disguising SEL topics and maintaining PBIS throughout.

Are you curious about how Recess Enhancement can help you maintain a positive school climate?

[Contact Us] for a free 15-minute consultation.

Here’s something you can use right away–a free 1-page exercise checklist for kids. Gamifying exercise on this colorful sheet will help them stay engaged and creative in their movement. Every minute counts!

[1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27556572/

[2] https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/children/index.htm

[3] https://nap.nationalacademies.org/read/18314/chapter/10#366

[4] https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/lack-of-physical-education-in-schools-concerns-parents/