Encouraging More PE and less TV

Movement and music brake strategies facilitate inclusion and help all students learn self control and attention skills.  Current research supports the value of music and movement breaks in promoting academic achievement and self-control in children.  A minimum exercise equivalent of 20 minutes brisk walking daily promotes academic achievement, neurological development, self-control, and overall health. Physical activity is a great vehicle for mainstreaming, as movement during and after school actually promotes rather than “steals time away from” academic achievement for all students throughout the school years.

The FAB Music and Movement Break Strategies benefit typical children and are particularly valuable for children with complex developmental and self-control challenges (including ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorders), significantly improving behavior and on-task attention in school.  Frequently children with developmental and self-control challenges lose recess due to behavioral difficulties during or following large group physical activity.  Discipline problems can be significantly reduced by initially limiting group size, increasing structure, and rewards of bonus activity time for returning to academic effort immediately following physical activities.

The FAB Playground Structure strategy is useful for helping children who get out of control by behaviors such as pushing other children down, or misbehaving during and immediately following recess.  The FAB Playground Structure strategy involves initial individualized or small group adult supervision by a school psychologist or occupational therapist.  The child initially must select play in one limited area of the play ground to increase structure (e.g., sliding board area with a jump rope used to define the area), play for a minimal period of time in the selected area followed by clean up before selecting the next area, specific rules (e.g., need to leave the playground if any pushing of peers occurs), and a rating of average Energy Level before returning to class.

Brief individualized periods of physical activity involving sensory calming strategies can be incorporated into the daily school routine by having a child periodically move mats and desks, pass out books, or deliver packages through out the school.  Class room music and movement breaks of five minutes duration are particularly useful in typical kindergarten and the early elementary grades.  Music and Movement Breaks providing deep pressure touch and slow linear movement that are particularly helpful in facilitating self-control for children with sensory processing challenges include the Hokey pokey, Head-shoulders-knees and toes, Did you ever see a laddy, and the Ten little hot dogs song.  Useful group movement breaks that facilitate motor self-control include Simon Says, Red-Light Green-light, and Giant Steps. Strategically planned music and movement break activities have been shown to improve behavior and learning in typical students as well as those with complex developmental and self-control challenges.


Hillman, C. H., Pontifex, M. B., Raine, L. B., Castelli, D. M., Hall, E. E., Kramer, A. F. (2009).  The effect of acute treadmill walking on cognitive control and academic achievement in preadolescent children.  Neuroscience, 159(3), 1044-1054.

Pellegrini, A. D. & Bohn, C. M. (2005).  The role of recess in children’s cognitive performance and school adjustment.  Educational Researcher, 35(1), 13-19.

Trudeau, F. & Shephard, R. (2008).  Physical education, school physical activity, school sports and academic performance.  International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 5, 5-10.


1 Comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.