October 11, 2019

CSPAP For Principals, Teachers, and PE Teachers: During School

Keep Students Active All Day


We’ve covered CSPAP in some earlier posts and wrote one just for parents and how they can help bring Comprehensive School Activity Programs to their kids’ schools. For this article, we gathered the information that pertains specifically to principals, teachers, and PE coaches. This blog post can be a go-to for leaders within the school to reference and use when discussing the importance of physical activity for students, and we’ve included tips on how these programs can be incorporated into the school day.

As Mindi and Guy Roz discussed in a recent Wow in the World episode, “Running around in a big open field like a bunch of screaming, laughing, wild maniacs is actually making us smarter!”

Recess time makes it a lot easier for kids to learn in the classroom.

In Finland, students are scoring higher on tests than students in other countries around the world. Could it be because they get an average of 15 minutes of recess every 45 minutes throughout the school day? Researchers at the American Academy of Pediatrics found that when kids have more time for free play, they focus better when they got back to class - in other words, they get their ya-yas out so their brains are clearer. They concluded that recess time is crucial for kids!

And check out all the benefits physical activity has on students:

  • Increased physical activity has both physical and mental benefits during the school day.
  • Having some sort of physical activity incorporated into the school day affects both health and cognition.
  • It improves bone, cardiovascular, and metabolic health.
  • Physical activity can absolutely reduce weight gain and symptoms of anxiety.

And it enhances attentiveness, boosts concentration, and diminishes behavior problems - all of which are factors known to influence learning. Recess is helping on all sorts of levels! We get REAL excited about this - can you tell?


How Can Teachers, Principals, and PE Teachers Get Involved?

Okay, we’ve laid some pretty serious and compelling groundwork on the WHY physical activity is important. Now we’ll get into the HOW. How in the world can we cram more physical activity into an already packed day? Let’s start with recess. Most schools have at last a few minutes every day scheduled for recess. So here are some ways to maximize recess time and encourage physical activity.

  • Students should be able to have physical and social activities of their choice during recess
  • Punishments that take away recess often remove that choice
  • Rather than sedentary punishment, ask students to walk laps during recess
  • Recess can provide as much as 40% of a child’s daily PA but does not always

To help improve rates, we can…

  • Train staff and teachers to engage students
  • While this time may be seen as a break to teachers, it is important to encourage students to play
  • Students following a teacher’s example of sitting or relaxing will not get them the physical activity they need
  • Provide equipment such as trikes, balls, jump ropes, hoops, music, etc.
  • Paint playground markings
  • Paint lines for recreational games like hopscotch, wallball, or four square
  • Create activity zones to provide a semi-structured recess environment
  • Setting up activity zones motivate students and help them find activities that they enjoy
  • Teach students activities for recess in five minutes at the end of a physical education lesson so they have an idea of what they can do on the playground
  • Call it the Recess Activity of the Week (or: RAW)
  • Encourage student-run intramural leagues during recess both team-based and individual

Make Your Classroom More Active, Too

Classrooms are places of learning, but they don't have to be sedentary places. You can find ways to add physical activity throughout the day. And evidence shows more frequent moments of physical activity enhance the learning process. Here are some ideas to incorporate physical activity into the classroom:

  • Incorporate PA breaks during academic lessons
  • Incorporate PA during transitions between lessons
  • Use PA to teach academic content
  • Place materials around the room to require students to move more to get what they need
  • Place learning experiences in ways that get students out of their seats
  • Use video-based activities on YouTube or GoNoodle
  • Provide specialized seating such as pedal desks, stability balls, or standing desks
  • **Students in sit-to-stand desks chose to stand 59% of the time


These are great ideas, right?! Maybe an hour and a half of physical activity time every day seems a bit overwhelming now, but you can always start small and work your way up to more. To learn more, contact a GameTime school playground expert in your neighborhood!