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Report: Outdoor Time Boosts Academic Performance for NH Kids

September 13, 2010

CONCORD, N.H. - Back-to-school has traditionally meant less outdoor time for children, and a new report from the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) shows that's not in New Hampshire kids' best interest when it comes to school performance and behavior.

NWF vice president of education and training Kevin Coyle makes the case for schools to reinstate regular recesses, as well as add school gardens and outside adventures.

"If the kids get a little more time outdoors, they get some play time, they're going to do a lot better in science, math, reading, and in those statewide tests."

Coyle says a sharper focus on boosting those test scores has led to scaled-back recess periods in most schools, which he claims even teachers know is counter-productive.

But it's not just a school issue, according to Coyle. He says even during the summer months, children spend more than 50 hours a week indoors and in front of electronics.

"We're making the point here that schools and parents need to be paying attention to how much outdoor time kids are getting, not only at home, but during the school hours, as well."

An NWF survey of educators found 78 percent believe children who spend regular time in unstructured outdoor play are better able to concentrate in the classroom.

The report, "Back to School: Back Outside," is at nwf.org

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - NH