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Report: Outdoor Time Boosts Academic Performance for MT Kids

September 7, 2010

HELENA, Mont. - 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 Montana kids' best interest when it comes to school performance and behavior.

Kevin Coyle, vice president of education and training with NWF, 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. An NWF survey of educators found that 78 percent believe children who spend regular time in unstructured outdoor play are better able to concentrate in the classroom.

But it's not just a school issue, according to Coyle.

"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."

He says that, even during the summer months, children spend more than 50 hours a week indoors and in front of electronics.

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

Deb Courson, Public News Service - MT