It’s well-known that regular breaks from work and school are important to your health. And with school, specifically recess, I would have thought we had it pretty well perfected at this point. After all, we’ve had plenty of time to try new things and get it right! Well, it turns out that might not be the case. It turns out we might have had it wrong all along.

Recently, a Texas elementary school decided to try something new. And by “something new” I mean they TRIPLED their recess time. Now, before your head explodes, just keep reading. The results might surprise you.

In 2015, students at Eagle Mountain Elementary School got a surprise when they learned they would be getting four 15-minute recess breaks throughout the day. Two in the morning and two in the afternoon. Which was much more than they were used to. But they weren’t just left to their devices out on the playground. They were encouraged to work on their social skills, teamwork, and, maybe most importantly, empathy.

The results were apparent almost immediately. Teachers said they saw an increase in problem-solving skills and focus, while seeing a decrease in fighting and difficulty with the students. Which makes sense, really. Studies have shown that giving children regular breaks helps them stay attentive and on task. It’s also ideal for helping them actually retain the information they’re receiving in the classroom. 

Debbie Rhea, a professor at Texas Christian University, refers to recess as a ‘reboot.’ Adding that “it gives the platform for them to be able to function at their best level.” Rhea worked directly with Eagle Mountain to implement the new idea and has already moved on to other schools to do the same. 

But she is more than happy to give credit where credit is due. And in this case, all the credit goes to Finland, which is where she first heard about the idea. Let’s just hope it has the same impact here in the states as it did there. As Finland consistently posts some of the highest education rankings in the world.