Effects of time of day of a physical activity lesson on classroom behavior in elementary school children
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Optimal learning times exist for children during the school day, thus it is important to examine the factors that may modify learning. The ability of a child to control his behavior in the classroom is important to learning and academic performance. Physical activity is important for health but may also modify behavior. Through strategic placement of physically active lessons during the school day, academic performance through on-task focus may be optimized. The purpose of this study was to examine the differential effects of time of day and physical activity on the behavioral control of third grade children. Students (N=137) were observed before and after an active or control lesson in the morning and in the afternoon. A three-way (pre- vs. post-observation x time of day [morning vs. afternoon] x lesson type [active vs. control]) repeated measures analysis of variance compared time on task between observation periods. Results indicated a significant difference in time on task during the afternoon between the active and control lessons. Specifically, children significantly improved their on task focus during the afternoon upon following an active lesson when compared to controls. Thus, physically active lessons are useful in improving on-task behavior in the afternoon during subsequent academic lessons.