Adding More Time to Elementary School Days

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LINCOLN, Neb. -- To make up for time for physical fitness in elementary schools, one doctor proposes to add more time to existing school hours.

Dr. Bob Rauner, Director of Partnership for a Healthy Lincoln, has found that more time for fitness results in better health in elementary students. In addition to their health, he said academic grades increase as well. Rauner has worked with the city of Lincoln for the past six years and said he successfully lowered obesity levels in Lincoln schools, but now recognizes another issue—time.

The average time kids get to eat lunch and play for recess is 25 minutes, said LPS Wellness Facilitator, Michelle Welch. She added that in elementary schools, physical education is taught every six days.

Rauner said the progress is in the middle schools, since they have time set aside for P.E. and organized sports. Elementary schools, however, do not have the same luxury. He said parents often have to look to out-of-school extra-curricular activities.

With the No Child Left Behind policy, Rauner said math and other academic subjects are “displacing other things” like art, recess, and physical activity. His solution to the issue is to add 22 minutes to the existing school hours.

10/11 News asked people on social media what they thought about the issue:

Irnya said, “We are setting high expectations for school and lowering them for parents. Maybe we, parents, need to put down our mobile devices and go play ball with our kids or go for a walk.”

“Physical activity is important, but I’m not sure we need to add time to the school day for it. Why not find ways to add movement into the existing school day,” said Kristin.

Rauner’s other alternatives to increase physical fitness time is to rearrange the time available, or utilize a community center for kids outside of school.

LPS is listening to Rauner’s ideas and is looking for ways to help elementary kids get up and running.

“We are looking at pilots to move forward…to try a different way to increase physical fitness for students,” said Welch.

She also challenges parents to make sure their kids get enough time to exercise.