When it comes to the students at Laredo Elementary in Aurora, learning about focus and concentration through Taekwondo can help in the classroom.

“We have some kids that are fidgety all the time,” Laredo Elementary School Physical Education teacher Leann Hepburn said. “We’ve seen a big rise in ADD and kids not being able to sit in their seats because we’ve decreased the amount of time we have physical activity in their day.”

It's physical activity that Hepburn felt was being replaced.

“Basically it was seat time for reading, writing and math,” Hepburn said.

New federal guidelines are trying address student health issues by bringing back an old favorite -- recess.
New federal guidelines are trying address student health issues by bringing back an old favorite -- recess.

That’s one reason why she agrees with the new federal school health guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control or CDC and SHAPE America.

Guidelines range from healthy eating practices to requiring at least 20 minutes daily for recess.

“Kids need to be up and out of their seats,” Metro State University K-12 Physical Education professor Dr. Nhu Nguyen said. “They need to be physically as well as mentally active and one component of that is making sure they have activity time and that includes recess.”

The CDC says children should participate in 60 minutes of physical activity every day to address health issues like childhood obesity that affects one in five school-aged students.

Those opposed to the new guidelines say recess might be taking away from valuable classroom time that the students need to learn other core subjects.

“Children that move are going to be healthier individuals that are going to be able to learn better as well,” Nguyen said. “It’s coming around full circle again and we are looking at not only their academic health but then their mental and social and physical health as well.”

The hope is that students get better grades in the classroom while learning better social skills on the playground.

“They learn things at recess that they don’t learn in other subject areas” Hepburn said. “They learn how to get along, how to barter how to pick a team.”

The CDC also suggests providing middle and high school students with a period of daily physical activity in addition to physical education and classroom physical activity.

“It gives them a break from their studies and their mind gets a break and then they can refocus on what they have to do,” Hepburn said.