Dunvegan Thought Spot


In the research The Dunvegan Group conducts to support our CCR™ (Customer Care & Retention™) programs, we discover articles, blog posts and videos which, although not directly related to our work, are thought provoking or concern matters you may want to think about.  ‘Thought Spot’ covers a broad range of subjects.

The posts in ‘Thought Spot’ are selected by Olev Wain, Ph.D., VP of Research at The Dunvegan Group. 

We welcome your feedback!



The Importance of Recess

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines recess as “regularly scheduled periods within the elementary school day for unstructured physical activity and play.”

In elementary school, my academic day started at 9:00 AM and ended at either 3:30 or 4:00 PM, depending on whether you had misbehaved and had to stay until 4:00 as punishment.

There was a 15 minute recess in the morning as well as in the afternoon; lunch time was 90 minutes long from noon until 1:30 PM with almost all students walking or bicycling home for lunch. Most of us were back in the school yard by 1:00 PM, playing whatever games we wanted.

I liked school and was interested in all subjects; however, towards the end of each classroom study segment I looked forward to either recess or going home for lunch and then doing something involving physical activity.

It seems that these days less and less time is being allocated by elementary schools to unstructured free time with more time being allotted to academic pursuits.

My personal experience suggests that this might not be the best way to run an elementary school to achieve optimal learning conditions.

Writing in theatlantic.com in December 2016, Alia Wong explains (edited version):

In Florida, a coalition of parents known as “the recess moms” has been fighting to pass legislation guaranteeing the state’s elementary-school students at least 20 minutes of daily free play. Similar legislation recently passed in New Jersey, only to be vetoed by the governor, who deemed it “stupid.”

When, you might ask, did recess become such a radical proposal? In a survey of school-district administrators, roughly a third said their districts had reduced outdoor play in the early 2000s.

Likely culprits include concerns about bullying and the No Child Left Behind Act, whose time-consuming requirements resulted in cuts to play.

The benefits of recess might seem obvious—time to run around helps kids stay fit. But a large body of research suggests that it also boosts cognition.

Many studies have found that regular exercise improves mental function and academic performance.

And an analysis of studies that focused specifically on recess found positive associations between physical activity and the ability to concentrate in class.

Preliminary results from an ongoing study in Texas suggest that elementary-school children who are given four 15-minute recesses a day are significantly more empathetic toward their peers than are kids who don’t get recess.

Perhaps most important, recess allows children to design their own games, to test their abilities, to role-play, and to mediate their own conflicts—activities that are key to developing social skills and navigating complicated situations.

I agree, especially with Alia Wong’s last comment.

As an elementary school pupil I remember playing pick-up soccer and baseball during recess and lunch time.

Without any adult supervision, we settled disputes amongst ourselves and renegotiated rules as required.

We were masters of both our physical space and our relationships with one another, if only for a short time.

Fast forward to today . . .

Some elementary schools have set up stationary bicycles with desks attached to the handle bars. Students may use them to do their work when they feel they are not able to sit still and concentrate on their academic studies. It seems that simultaneous physical activity helps them focus on their work.

The results, so far, appear to be promising. However, as with most new innovations or practices, only time will tell if studying while peddling a stationary bicycle consistently aids learning.

Or are stationary bicycles just a passing fad that students and teachers want to believe helps with cognitive functioning?

Your thoughts?

Image courtesy of dolgachov at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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