According to a study in Preventive Medicine Reports, kids who participated in a physical activity program before school spent more time on-task during the first part of the school day. The study included 77 third and fourth graders from two schools (one private and one public) in the US. Two days a week for five weeks, the students participated in a 15 to 20 minute before-school running/walking club while wearing pedometers. Then, for the first 45 minutes of school, the students were monitored for “on-task behaviors” (listening to directions and working quietly at their desks) and “off-task behaviors” (breaking rules, being disruptive, not participating, or staring into space). Researchers found that:
On the days students participated in the running/walking club, their engagement in on-task behaviors was 14 to 15% higher than on the days they didn’t participate in the running/walking club.
These findings suggest that physical activity may play an important part in kids’ in-class behavior. Unfortunately, this research comes at a time when many schools are ramping down their physical activity programs due to a lack of funding and increasing pressures to focus solely on academic performance. So, while research like this stresses the importance of school day physical activity, access to programs such as this may not be readily available. But there are ways to take matters into your own hands: if your child’s school doesn’t offer before-school activities, consider walking or cycling to school with your kids, or joining with other parents to organize a pick-up dodgeball game at the bus stop a few mornings each week.
Source: Preventive Medicine Reports