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Report: Outdoor Time Boosts Academic Performance for IA Kids

September 13, 2010

DES MOINES, Iowa - 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 Iowa kids' best interest when it comes to school performance and behavior. NWF vice president of education and training Kevin Coyle urges bringing back recess periods as well as adding 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 times in most schools, which he claims even teachers know is counter-productive.

Julie Richards-Krapfl, the All-Kids Healthy Coordinator for Blank Children's Hospital in Des Moines, says kids are not as active now as during the summer months.

"Even though elementary schools have P.E., sometimes this is only one or two days a week, and we'd really like to see kids getting active seven days a week for at least 30 minutes, 60 preferably."

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.

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

Dick Layman, Public News Service - IA