Recess: Is It Needed in the 21st Century?
Rachel Sindelar
2002 (Last updated July 2004)
Recess is the time of day set aside for elementary school students to take a break from their class work, engage in play with their peers, and take part in independent, unstructured activities. The scheduling and length of time for recess vary, but traditionally schools have allotted time for recess breaks in the mornings or afternoons (and sometimes both) as well as extra recess time during the lunch period. A 1989 survey of state superintendents conducted by the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) found that schools in 90% of school districts had at least one recess period during the day (Pellegrini, 1995).

In recent years, many elementary schools have eliminated or significantly reduced children's recess breaks during the school day []. This trend has sparked a debate over whether or not recess should remain a standard part of the elementary school daily schedule. This report identifies the major issues surrounding this debate, summarizes some of the literature relating to the topic of recess, and guides the reader to additional resources on recess.

What are the reasons behind the reduction or elimination of elementary school recess?

The reduction of recess breaks in schools is a growing trend in elementary education. According to one advocacy group, "Nearly forty percent of the nation's 16,000 school districts have either modified, deleted, or are considering deleting recess" (cited in NAECS/SDE, 2001, p. 1). "School districts in Atlanta, New York, Chicago, New Jersey, and Connecticut are opting to eliminate recess, even to the point of building new schools in their districts without playgrounds" (Johnson, 1998, p. A1). Increasing demands to raise test scores and to teach more challenging curricula are among the reasons cited by school districts for eliminating recess. Schools are beginning to implement "no recess" policies under the belief that recess wastes time that would be better spent on academics (Johnson, 1998).

In addition to the idea that eliminating recess can provide additional time that teachers can use to improve students' academic performance, some schools have eliminated recess for liability reasons. They are concerned about the injuries and lawsuits that can arise from outdoor play. Many administrators are also concerned about strangers' access to children on school grounds and note the shortage of teachers and volunteers to supervise recess (Svensen, 2000). An increasing awareness of playground bullying is another motivating factor that schools consider in decreasing students' opportunities for unsupervised activities (Svensen, 2000).

What are some of the theories behind scheduling recess as part of the school day?

The debate over reducing recess breaks has sparked a discussion of the theories used to support scheduling recess as part of the school day. Evans and Pellegrini (1997) suggest that the literature about recess can be categorized by three major theories of the need for school break time: the Surplus Energy Theory, the Novelty Theory, and the Cognitive Maturity Hypothesis. It should be noted that the limited research conducted on recess does not definitively support any of these theories; however, all three theories include the belief that children return from recess breaks more attentive and ready to focus on course work.

Surplus Energy Theory

This theory suggests that when children are sedentary for long periods of time they build up surplus energy. Fidgeting, restlessness, waning concentration, and general off-task behavior are indications that children need a break. Recess gives students a chance to exercise, fulfilling their need to "let off steam." According to this theory, described by Evans and Pellegrini (1997), only after this pent-up energy is released can children return to the classroom refreshed and ready for more work. Although this theory is widely accepted, Smith and Hagan (1980), among others, contend that there is no independent criterion as to what constitutes surplus energy and that the idea of a build-up of energy in need of discharge makes little sense physiologically. Evans and Pellegrini (1997) point out that children often continue to engage in play, even after they are exhausted.

Novelty Theory

This theory proposes that as their classroom work becomes less interesting, children become less attentive and need playtime to re-introduce novelty (Evans & Pellegrini, 1997). According to this theory, recess breaks allow children the opportunity to engage in activities different from academic lessons. Once the children return to class, students perceive school work as new and novel again.

Cognitive Maturity Hypothesis

This theory suggests that both children and adults learn more by engaging in tasks spaced over time rather than those that are concentrated (Evans & Pellegrini, 1997). According to this line of thinking, recess provides students with the breaks needed during their lessons to optimize their attention to class activities and time-on-task behavior (Evans & Pellegrini, 1997; Pellegrini & Bjorklund, 1996).

What are the perceived benefits of recess?

Observers have pointed out that recess may be the only time in a child's day when he or she has the opportunity to exercise, play games, and interact with peers. Clements (2000) states that by participating in these types of unstructured activities, children are able to develop the social, emotional, physical, and cognitive skills they need to be successful in both school and society.

Other observers suggest that learning can be achieved on the playground in a way that is not possible in a structured classroom. A position paper from the National Association for Sport and Physical Education states:

Recess provides children with discretionary time and opportunities to engage in physical activity that helps to develop healthy bodies and enjoyment of movement. It also allows elementary children to practice life skills such as conflict resolution, cooperation, respect for rules, taking turns, sharing, using language to communicate, and problem solving in situations that are real. Furthermore, it may facilitate improved attention and focus on learning in the academic program. (Council on Physical Education for Children, 2001)

Social benefits

As early as 1901, educational theorists began to talk about the social benefits of active recess play as preparation for adulthood and as beneficial to the child's development (cited in Jambor, 1999). The school playground was a practice site that encouraged games of competition, allowed experimentation with new social strategies, and provided a setting for dramatic play (Jambor, 1999). Jambor suggests that children improve their social skills at recess by practicing the following actions:

  • Sharing with peers
  • Cooperating
  • Communicating with teachers and children
  • Solving problems
  • Respecting playground rules
  • Resolving conflict
  • Self-discipline

Emotional benefits

Recess may act as a stress reliever by allowing children to work off the tensions they have built up during the day and by reducing the anxiety that can be caused by academic pressures. Newman and colleagues (1996) suggest that through play activities, children can learn valuable methods for managing school- and family-related stress. For this reason, they have considered playtime as potentially therapeutic.

Unstructured peer interaction may also improve a child's self-esteem by providing opportunities for "children [to] learn about their own abilities, perseverance, self-direction, responsibility, and self-acceptance. They begin to understand which behaviors result in approval or disapproval from their peers" (NAECS/SDE, 2001, p. 3). This understanding is vital to the early development of friendships. The school playground provides a venue for children to cultivate friendships and reap the benefits of new relationships. Newman, Brody, and Beauchamp (1996) note that this type of peer interaction encourages character development by improving children's ability to make better moral decisions and increasing their awareness of individual social responsibility.

Physical benefits

Childhood health problems caused by inactivity or under-activity are a growing problem in the United States. "The prevalence of childhood obesity in the United States has risen dramatically in the past several decades" (Moran, 1999). Studies suggest that children can significantly reduce their health risks by simply increasing the amount of time that they exercise. Many elementary schools offer physical education (PE) classes as part of their standard curriculum, but studies show that PE classes are not enough (Council on Physical Education for Children, 2001). The opportunity to engage in additional activities, such as recess play, may help to alleviate or avoid possible health problems and is very important to a child's muscle development and coordination. Studies have shown that unstructured play, specifically outdoor play, encourages physical activity in a unique way. Therefore, children benefit from both recess and PE, but neither can be substituted for the other.

Cognitive benefits

During recess time, children's activities are often exploratory. This type of experience stimulates a child's cognitive development in several ways. Research studying the effects of social play on learning reveals that play behavior encourages creativity, promotes problem-solving skills, and improves a child's vocabulary. A child can apply the skills he or she has learned on the playground to classroom lessons and assignments. Research suggests that there may be a correlation (but not necessarily a cause and effect relationship) between engaging in unstructured play activities with peers and higher scores on intelligence tests (Saltz, Dixon, & Johnson, 1977).

Teacher benefits

It is seldom mentioned in the literature, but teachers also benefit from recess breaks. Although it may take teachers a few minutes to get their class calmed down after recess, many observers believe that students pay better attention to lessons and disruptive behavior decreases after the recess break. Therefore, some teachers consider recess to be an important element of classroom management (Bogden & Vega-Matos, 2000). Recess also often gives teachers a break from the constant supervision of students. "It provides time when they can attend meetings, speak with parents, and prepare curriculum materials for subsequent lessons… As class sizes increase, as the curriculum which teachers are expected to cover expands and as teachers are made more accountable for the progress students in their classes make, these breaks become more important because they provide a brief opportunity to sit down and take stock of the day's events" (Evans & Pellegrini, 1997).


Jarrett and Maxwell (2000) point out that few research studies focus on the need for or value of recess. Most studies related to recess focus on the value of a break in the day. Many research studies support the educational and developmental value of unstructured play activities with peers in the elementary school grades, but whether or not this type of experience needs to be part of the school day remains debatable. The social, emotional, and physical benefits of recess may outweigh the small amount of time recess takes away from class work, although it could also be argued that unstructured play opportunities could be obtained during out-of-school time with neighborhood friends or siblings.


Bogden, J. F., & Vega-Matos, C. A. (2000). Fit, healthy, and ready to learn: A school health policy guide. Part I: Physical activity, healthy eating, and tobacco-use prevention. Alexandria, VA: National Association of State Boards of Education.

Clements, R. L. (Ed.). (2000). Elementary school recess: Selected readings, games, and activities for teachers and parents. Lake Charles, LA: American Press.

Council on Physical Education for Children. (2001). Recess in elementary schools: A position paper from the National Association for Sport and Physical Education [Online]. Available:

Evans, John, & Pellegrini, Anthony. (1997). Surplus energy theory: An enduring but inadequate justification for school break-time. Educational Review, 49(3), 229-336. (ERIC Journal No. EJ556417)

Jambor, Tom. (1999). Recess and social development [Online]. Available:[Editor's note (06-27-06): this url is no longer active.]

Jarrett, Olga S., & Maxwell, Darlene M. (2000). What research says about the need for recess. In R. L. Clements (Ed.), Elementary school recess: Selected readings, games, and activities for teachers and parents. Lake Charles, LA: American Press.

Johnson, Dirk. (1998, April 7). Many schools putting an end to child's play. New York Times, pp. A1, A16.

Moran, Rebecca. (1999). Evaluation and treatment of childhood obesity. American Family Physician [Online]. Available:'s note: This url has changed:

National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education (NAECS/SDE). (2001). Recess and the importance of play: A position statement on young children and recess [Online]. Available: (ERIC Document No. ED463047)

Newman, Joan; Brody, Pamela J.; & Beauchamp, Heather M. (1996). Teachers' attitudes and policies regarding play in elementary schools. Psychology in the Schools, 33(1), 61-69. (ERIC Journal No. EJ531984)

Pellegrini, Anthony D. (1995). School recess and playground behavior. Albany: State University of New York. (ERIC Document No. ED379095)

Pellegrini, Anthony D., & Bjorklund, David F. (1996). The role of recess in children's cognitive performance. Educational Psychologist, 31, 181-187.

Ramsburg, Dawn. (1998). No-recess policies being implemented in U.S. school districts. Parent News [Online], 4(7). Available:

Saltz, E., Dixon, D., & Johnson, J. (1977). Training disadvantaged preschoolers on various fantasy activities: Effects on cognitive functioning and impulse control. Child Development, 48(20), 367-380. (ERIC Journal No. EJ164702)

Smith, P., & Hagan, T. (1980). Effects of deprivation of exercise play in nursery school children, Animal Behaviour, 28, 922-928.

Svensen, Ann. (2000). A recess for recess? [Online]. Available:,1303,1-3496,00.html?obj_gra. [Editor's note (2006-04-28): this url is no longer active.]

Web Resources

Recess in Elementary School: What Does the Research Say?

The Crucial Role of Recess in School

Michigan State Board of Education policy that supports daily recess.

Recess: Necessity or Nicety?

All Work, No Play at School

The Developmental and Educational Significance of Recess in Schools

IPA/USA Newsletter On-line

National Center for Education Statistics. Spring Teacher Questionnaire A (pp. 39-40 includes recess statistics)

No-fun zones: schools take a recess timeout
As many as four schools out of ten no longer have time for recess.

On the Elimination of Recess required.

Should Schools Take a Break from Recess?

The Value of School Recess and Outdoor Play


ERIC Resources

How to Obtain ERIC Documents and Journal Articles:

References identified with an ED (ERIC document)or EJ (ERIC journal) are cited in the ERIC database. ERIC Documents (citations identified by an ED number) may be available in full text from ERIC at no cost at the ERIC Web site: Journal articles are available from the original journal, interlibrary loan services, or article reproduction clearinghouses.

If you would like to conduct your own free ERIC database searches via the Internet, go directly to


Search of the ERIC Database through 06/2004

ED478468 PS031382
Title: The Rewards and Restrictions of Recess: Reflections on Being a Playground Volunteer.
Author(s) O'Brien, Leigh M.
Pages: 15
Publication Date: April 2003
Notes: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (Chicago, IL, April 21-25, 2003).
Available from: EDRS Price MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.
Language: English
Document Type: Opinion papers (120); Speeches/meeting papers (150)
Geographic Source: U.S.; New York
Journal Announcement: RIEMAR2004
Target Audience: Administrators; Practitioners; Teachers

Based on the experiences of a participant observer (weekly playground volunteer) over the course of one school year, this paper recounts the experiences of first through third graders during recess and discusses the importance of outdoor play for providing children an opportunity to speak and act unfettered by adult expectations, thereby promoting a peer culture defining itself in opposition to official school structures. The narrative, viewed as a means of bearing witness to perceived or experienced injustices, follows a diary format and discusses issues related to children's outdoor play, including the types of games children play and their social interactions, concerns about control and liability masquerading as concerns for children's safety, the need to develop environmental values, the meaning of teachers' absence during recess, and restrictions on rough and tumble play. Responses during interviews with a convenience sample of children revealed that the children loved the openness and social dimension of playground activities but did not like being teased or restricted. Children's attempts to resist being disciplined and being controlled are interpreted not as an attempt to escape from oppression, but rather as ways to provide opportunities to remake one self. Benefits of recess for children's sense of agency, self expression, and problem solving are described. The paper emphasizes the need to provide high-quality recess experiences and the role of societal values in creating a restrictive play environment, thereby placing the question of recess within the larger context of questions regarding the purpose of education and the role of adults in children's education. (Contains 32 references.) (KB)

Descriptors: *Adult Child Relationship; Childhood Attitudes; Childhood Needs; Discipline; Elementary Education; *Elementary School Students; Outdoor Activities; Participant Observation; Personal Narratives; Physical Development; Playground Activities; *Power Structure; *Recess Breaks; School Role; Social Development; Teacher Role; *Values Education
Identifiers: Play Learning

EJ675917 CG560931
Title: Effects of Recess on the Classroom Behavior of Children with and without Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Author(s) Ridgway, Andrea; Northup, John; Pellegrin, Angie; LaRue, Robert; Hightshoe, Anne
Source: School Psychology Quarterly, v18 n3 p253-68 Fall 2003
Publication Date: 2003
ISSN: 1045-3830
Language: English
Document Type: Journal articles (080); Reports--Research (143)
Journal Announcement: CIJMAR2004

Study evaluated effects of traditional recess on subsequent classroom behavior of children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Results showed that levels of inappropriate behavior were consistently higher on days when participants did not have recess. Optimal recess period(s) may potentially promote academic achievement by increasing on-task behavior or academic engaged time. (Contains19 references and 2 figures.)

Descriptors: Academic Achievement; Attention Deficit Disorders; Behavior Patterns; *Behavior Problems; Hyperactivity; *Recess Breaks; *Student Behavior; Time on Task

EJ664142 CG559936
Title: The Relationship between Children's Self-Reported Recess Problems, and Peer Acceptance and Friendships.
Author(s) Doll, Beth; Murphy, Patrick; Song, Samuel Y.
Source: Journal of School Psychology, v41 n2 p113-30 Mar-Apr 2003
Publication Date: 2003
ISSN: 0022-4405
Language: English
Document Type: Information Analysis (070); Journal articles (080); Reports--
Research (143)
Journal Announcement: CIJAUG2003

Investigates the nature of children's self-reported recess problems and the degree to which these were correlated with children's peer acceptance and mutual friendships. Modest relations were reported between inclusion recess problems and children's mutual friendships and peer acceptance. Results suggest that self-reported recess problems are a distinct construct from traditional research measures of peer acceptance and friendships. (Contains 63 references and 6 tables.) (GCP)

Descriptors: *Children; Elementary Education; *Friendship; *Peer Acceptance; Peer Relationship; *Recess Breaks; Self Report

EJ663716 SP530800
Title: Supervision + Recess = Injury Prevention.
Author(s) Olsen, Heather M.; Hudson, Susan D.; Thompson, Donna
Source: Our Children, v27 n6 p10 Apr-May 2002
Publication Date: 2002
ISSN: 1083-3080
Language: English
Document Type: Guides--Non-classroom (055); Journal articles (080)
Journal Announcement: CIJJUL2003

As schools try to do more with less, many PTAs are working with school officials to help improve the school environment. Playground safety is one area where PTAs can make a difference. For example, PTAs can work with schools to schedule volunteers to help with recess supervision. They can also teach children the rules of the playground and how to avoid unsafe situations. (SM)

Descriptors: *Accident Prevention; Elementary Education; *Injuries; Parent School Relationship; Playground Activities; *Recess Breaks; *School Safety; *Supervision
Identifiers: *Parent Teacher Association

EJ653711 EC630779
Title: Action Research during Recess: A Time for Children with Autism To Play and Learn.
Author(s) Schoen, Sharon F.; Bullard, Megan
Source: TEACHING Exceptional Children, v35 n1 p36-39 Sep-Oct 2002
Publication Date: 2002
ISSN: 0040-0599
Language: English
Document Type: Journal articles (080); Reports--Research (143)
Journal Announcement: CIJFEB2003

This article discusses an action research project that targeted the social interaction skills of seven students (ages 5-7) with autism. Through group games at recess and award stickers each day for playing the games, children increased their participation in the games, learned new games, and demonstrated good sportsmanship. (Contains 10 references.) (CR)

Descriptors: Action Research; *Autism; *Childrens Games; Classroom Techniques; Elementary Education; *Interpersonal Competence; Peer Relationship; *Play; *Recess Breaks; *Social Development

ED463047 PS030138
Title: Recess and the Importance of Play. A Position Statement on Young Children and Recess.
Author Affiliation: National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education.(BBB25995)
Pages: 15
Publication Date: 2001
Available from: EDRS Price MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.
Availability: NAECS/SDE, Center for At-Risk Education, Colorado State Department of Education, 201 E. Colfax Avenue, Rm. 408, Denver, CO 80203. Tel: 303-866-6674; Fax: 303-866-6662.
Language: English
Document Type: Opinion papers (120)
Geographic Source: U.S.; Colorado

In this position statement, the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education asserts that recess is an essential component of education and that preschool and elementary school children must have the opportunity to participate in regular periods of active, free play with peers. The statement summarizes research on the benefits of recess and play on social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development; delineates current concerns about the elimination of recess by many schools; and offers recommendations about recess and the young child. Recommendations include the following: (1) support policies that require recess time to be part of the preschool and elementary school curriculum; and (2) support research and professional development that facilitate every educator's skills in observation and assessment of the developmental growth of children through the play process. Appended to the statement are a position paper from the National Association for Sport and Physical Education on recess in elementary schools, and a statement on the value of school recess and outdoor play from the National Association for the Education of Young Children. (Contains 40 references.) (EV)

Descriptors: Child Development; *Childhood Needs; Cognitive Development; Elementary Education; Emotional Development; Outdoor Activities; Physical Activities; Physical Development; Play; Playground Activities; *Position Papers; Preschool Education; *Recess Breaks; Social Development; *Young Children
Identifiers: *National Association Early Childhood Specialists

EJ641707 PS532535
Title: The Silencing of Recess Bells. Issues in Education.
Author(s): Kieff, Judith
Source: Childhood Education, v77 n5 p319-20 Annual Theme 2001
Publication Date: 2001
Notes: Annual theme issue: "The Global Village: Migration and Education."
ISSN: 0009-4056
Language: English
Document Type: Journal articles (080); Opinion papers (120)

Presents evidence that allowing time for recess or playground activities can yield immediate and long-term benefits for children. Maintains that breaks between cognitive tasks support learning and that play adds to educational quality. Concludes that administrators, teachers, and parents should collaborate to create an environment that promotes high-quality recess experiences. (KB)

Descriptors: Educational Trends; *Elementary Education; *Middle Schools; Play; *Playground Activities; *Recess Breaks; School Safety; Student Needs

EJ636500 CE538614
Title: The Fourth R: Recess and Its Link to Learning.
Author(s): Waite-Stupiansky, Sandra; Findlay, Marcia
Source: Educational Forum, v66 n1 p16-25 Fall 2001
Publication Date: 2001
Notes: Theme: Educating the Young Learner.
ISSN: 0013-1725
Language: English
Document Type: Information Analysis (070); Journal articles (080)

Review of research on recess shows how its presence or absence affects children's brain development, health and physical development, attention, memory, social and emotional adjustment, language development, and classroom behavior. Despite demonstrated benefits, recess is endangered by pressures on schools to increase achievement. (Contains 52 references.) (SK)

Descriptors: Children; *Cognitive Development; Early Childhood Education; Language Acquisition; *Physical Activities; *Recess Breaks; Socialization

EJ635822 RC514937
Title: Where Do the Children Play?
Author(s): Kilty, Katie
Source: Zip Lines: The Voice for Adventure Education, n43 p12-16 Sum 2001
Publication Date: 2001
Notes: Theme issue title: "Adventure and the Moral Development of Youth."
ISSN: 1529-5982
Language: English
Document Type: Journal articles (080); Reports--Descriptive (141)

Adventure programs and philosophies can be an effective means for realizing violence prevention programming goals. Collaborative, noncompetitive activities help children develop a heightened sense of empathy and perspective, create and apply supportive behavioral norms, and in turn, improve conduct and climate in schools. Sample programs include the peaceable playground and diversity retreat. (TD)

Descriptors: *Adventure Education; *Conflict Resolution; Cross Age Teaching; Elementary Secondary Education; Empathy; Group Activities; Parent Participation; Play; *Playground Activities; *Prevention; *Recess Breaks; *Violence
Identifiers: *Noncompetitive Games

EJ616841 PS531117
Title: Why Recess?
Author(s): Tyler, Vernelle
Source: Dimensions of Early Childhood, v28 n4 p21-23 Fall 2000
Publication Date: 2000
Notes: Theme Issue Topic: "Children's Play."
ISSN: 1068-6177
Language: English
Document Type: Journal articles (080); Opinion papers (120); Reports--Descriptive (141)

Describes recent reductions or elimination of recess at the elementary school level. Discusses the benefits of recess for children's intellectual, social, emotional, and physical development. Argues that recess has educational and social values and should not be eliminated from the school day. (KB)

Descriptors: Elementary Education; Elementary School Students; *Outdoor Activities; *Play; *Recess Breaks; School Recreational Programs; Student Needs

EJ608108 EC625049
Title: Physical Activity of Children with and without Mental Retardation in Inclusive Recess Settings.
Author(s): Lorenzi, David G.; Horvat, Michael; Pellegrini, Anthony D.
Source: Education and Training in Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, v35 n2 p160-67 Jun 2000
Publication Date: 2000
ISSN: 1079-3917
Language: English
Document Type: Journal articles (080); Reports--Research (143)

A study compared physical activity levels of 17 typical elementary school children and 17 with mental retardation in inclusive recess settings. Boys with mental retardation demonstrated higher activity counts and heart rates than boys without mental retardation while no group differences were apparent on an observational checklist. (Contains references.) (Author/CR)

Descriptors: Check Lists; Elementary Education; *Inclusive Schools; *Mental Retardation; *Physical Activities; *Playground Activities; *Recess Breaks; Recreational Activities

ED441802 SP039260
Title: Help! It's an Indoor Recess Day.
Author(s): Novak, Dori E.
Pages: 84
Publication Date: 2000
ISBN: 0-7619-7528-4
Available from: EDRS Price MF01 Plus Postage. PC Not Available from EDRS.
Availability: Corwin Press, Inc., A Sage Publications Company, 2455 Teller Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91320-2218. Tel: 805-499-9734; Fax: 800-4-1-24665 (Toll Free); e-mail:; Web site:
Language: English
Document Type: Guides--Non-classroom (055)
Geographic Source: U.S.; California
Target Audience: Practitioners; Teachers

This book provides a collection of easy-to-implement ideas and creative strategies designed to help teachers manage indoor recess by developing temporary playrooms. Chapter 1 helps teachers make a good assessment of the present situation. Chapter 2 encourages teachers to take heart, no matter how frustrated they may have been in the past, and consider a new way of looking at the situation. Chapter 3 introduces a four-corners, step-by-step approach to managing indoor recess. Chapters 4, 5, and 6 explain how to accommodate different play styles and interests by creating special areas that are stocked with rainy day activities (engrossing games, creative pursuits, and quiet activities). Chapter 7 discusses a special area of the room, called the time-out corner, where children who have temporarily lost control of themselves can regain composure with dignity. Chapter 8 explains how the teacher can introduce the new system to students, monitor implementation, and correct any problems. Chapter 9 provides a variety of ideas for additional activity areas, with suggestions for their location, setup, and use. Chapter 10 takes a more in-depth look at what it takes to keep the system fresh and fun over time. (SM)

Descriptors: Childrens Games; Creative Activities; Elementary Education; *Play; *Recess Breaks; *Recreational Activities

EJ604580 CG555154
Title: Enhancing Social Skills through School Social Work Interventions during Recess: Gender Differences.
Author(s): Butcher, Dawn Anderson
Source: Social Work in Education, v21 n4 p249-62 Oct 1999
Publication Date: 1999
ISSN: 0162-7961
Language: English
Document Type: Journal articles (080); Reports--Research (143)

Recess serves as a prime example of an underused social work intervention opportunity in schools. Describes and evaluates a recess-based social skill intervention that targets elementary-aged school children and their behaviors on the playground. Explores program effectiveness by examining behaviors from before and during the program. Examines gender differences. (Author/MKA)

Descriptors: Behavior Problems; Educational Environment; Elementary Education; Interpersonal Competence; *Intervention; *Recess Breaks; School Social Workers; *Sex Differences

EJ590140 PS529486
Title: Helping Primary School Children Work Things Out during Recess.
Author(s): McDermott, Kathleen
Source: Young Children, v54 n4 p82-84 Jul 1999
Publication Date: 1999
ISSN: 0044-0728
Language: English
Document Type: Guides--Non-classroom (055); Journal articles (080)

Notes that recess in elementary education is filled with struggles and crises; presents suggestions for playground education and guidance. Suggests that teachers can implement children's prosocial playground behavior by presenting a repertoire of acceptable games to play and tools for game organization, providing support on the playground, keeping environment aligned with children's needs, and using the class-meeting framework. (LBT)

Descriptors: Childrens Games; Elementary Education; Elementary School Teachers; Play; Playgrounds; *Prosocial Behavior; *Recess Breaks; Teacher Student Relationship
Identifiers: Playground Design

ED427482 EC307053
Title: Recess in Elementary Schools: Implications for Children Who Have Disabilities.
Author(s): McClure, Cheryl; Kinnison, Lloyd R.
Pages: 29
Publication Date: 1999
Available from: EDRS Price MF01/PC02 Plus Postage.
Language: English
Document Type: Information Analysis (070)
Geographic Source: U.S.; Texas

This paper reviews historical aspects of play, issues about recess time, and implications for children who have disabilities. It also describes the need for research to acquire information from stakeholders. Play is pleasurable, enjoyable, intrinsic, and the active base for cognitive, social, motor, and language development in children. Experienced gained during the practice of certain activities during play increases the efficiency with which the same responses will be performed in maturity. Recess is important in allowing students with disabilities to interact with their typical peers and in providing the opportunity to express experiences, learn by trial and error to cope with the actual world, develop creativity, address deficits or delays in language development, and strengthen sensory abilities. Options for play advocates intent on saving recess and play time in schools are provided and include: (1) alter the purpose of public schools so that experimental or existential learning is valued; (2) accept the current purpose of schools and call for more research on play's role in student academic outcomes; or (3) select and defend only those play interventions that research have shown already to be achievement producing. (Contains 52 references.) (CR)

Descriptors: *Child Behavior; Children; Creative Development; *Disabilities; Educational Development; Educational History; Elementary Education; Intervention; Outcomes of Education; *Peer Relationship; *Play; Playground Activities; *Recess Breaks; *Recreational Activities; Research Needs; Social Development

EJ584820 SO531155
Title: What Do We Know about Breaktime? Results from a National Survey of Breaktime and Lunchtime in Primary and Secondary Schools.
Author(s): Sumpner, Clare; Blatchford, Peter
Source: British Educational Research Journal, v24 n1 p79-94 Feb 1998
Publication Date: 1998
ISSN: 0141-1926
Language: English
Document Type: Journal articles (080); Reports--Research (143)

Observes that student breaktimes are often seen as problems by teachers and that there are signs that breaktime is being reduced; however, breaktimes may have important social value for students. Reports on the results of a national survey in the United Kingdom about breaktime and teacher perceptions of its value. (DSK)

Descriptors: *Children; Elementary Secondary Education; Foreign Countries; National Surveys; *Recess Breaks; *Social Development; *Teacher Attitudes; *Time Management
Identifiers: United Kingdom

EJ556417 CE531970
Title: Surplus Energy Theory: An Enduring But Inadequate Justification for School Break-Time.
Author(s): Evans, John; Pellegrini, Anthony
Source: Educational Review, v49 n3 p229-36 Nov 1997
Publication Date: 1997
ISSN: 0013-1911
Language: English
Document Type: Information Analysis (070); Journal articles (080)

Although school break times have been justified by children's need to release surplus energy, research findings show little support for this theory. Restlessness and inattentiveness may be attributable to boredom. Regular breaks can be justified for other reasons. (SK)

Descriptors: *Attention Span; Children; Elementary Education; *Play; *Recess Breaks

EJ552764 PS527097
Title: The Neglect of Playtime: A Review of the Literature.
Author(s): Towers, Jenny
Source: Early Child Development and Care, v131 p31-43 Apr 1997
Publication Date: 1997
ISSN: 0300-4430
Language: English
Document Type: Information Analysis (070); Journal articles (080)

This review of school playtime literature finds that school play has gained serious recognition only in the last decade; that recognition generally falls into two camps, the romantic view (emphasizing what children learn and enjoy at playtime) and the problematic view (emphasizing issues such as bullying, disruptive behavior, and gender inequalities); and that children's perceptions of play need investigation. (EV)

Descriptors: Educational Research; Literature Reviews; *Play; Playground Activities; Playgrounds; *Recess Breaks; School Activities; *School Recreational Programs

EJ550995 PS526976
Title: Helping Primary Children with Recess Play: A Social Curriculum.
Author(s): Thompson, Susan; Knudson, Paula; Wilson, Darlene
Source: Young Children, v52 n6 p17-21 Sep 1997
Publication Date: 1997
ISSN: 0044-0728
Language: English
Document Type: Guides--Classroom--Teacher (052); Journal articles (080)

Advocates the use of recess meetings to help children succeed socially. Describes case studies of use of recess meetings in a first- and third-grade class, showing how teachers got to know each child better, and detailing how children were better able to express ideas, share experiences, voice concerns, solve problems, and laugh. (Author/SD)

Descriptors: *Meetings; Outdoor Education; *Play; *Playground Activities; *Playgrounds; Primary Education; *Recess Breaks; Social Adjustment; *Social Development; Social Experience
Identifiers: *Play Learning

ED405373 TM026222
Title: A Time To Learn, a Time To Play: Premack's Principle Applied in the Classroom.
Author(s): Geiger, Brenda
Pages: 12
Publication Date: October 1996
Notes: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Northeastern Educational Research Association (October 2-5, 1996). Submitted for publication as an article in "American Secondary Education."
Available from: EDRS Price MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.
Availability: American Secondary Education, Ashland University, 401 College Avenue, Ashland, OH 44805.
Language: English
Document Type: Reports--Research (143); Speeches/meeting papers (150)
Geographic Source: U.S.; New Jersey

Free time is the natural medium through which youngsters express themselves and develop motor, cognitive, and social skills. Nevertheless, free play on the playground is rarely used in the school as a means of enhancing students' motivation to learn. This study uses play as an application of Premack's principle (D. Premack, 1965) to the classroom. The principle states that a preferred behavior may be an effective reinforcer of a less preferred activity. It shows that taking middle school and junior high school students to play on the playground can be a powerful and inexpensive reinforcer of learning that could be used by teachers, and especially by substitutes. Subjects were 42 seventh- and eighth-grade students being taught by a substitute teacher. Controls were 25 sixth graders taught by the same teacher. This reinforcer was found to increase students' learning time on task, and group and self-regulation, while reducing the time wasted on disciplining teenage students. (Contains 29 references.) (Author/SLD)

Descriptors: Control Groups; *Elementary School Students; Grade 6; Grade 7; Grade 8; *Incentives; Intermediate Grades; *Junior High School Students; Junior High Schools; Middle Schools; Play; *Recess Breaks; Reinforcement; *Student Motivation; Substitute Teachers
Identifiers: *Middle School Students; *Premack Principle

ED406629 CG027622
Title: Recess Reports: Self-Identification of Students with Friendship Difficulties.
Author(s): Doll, Beth; Murphy, Patrick
Pages: 42
Publication Date: August 1996
Notes: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Psychological Association (104th, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, August 9-13, 1996).
Available from: EDRS Price MF01/PC02 Plus Postage.
Language: English
Document Type: Reports--Research (143); Speeches/meeting papers (150)
Geographic Source: U.S.; Colorado

Students' relationships with peers is fundamental to their mental health. A 3-month study presented here investigated the nature and frequency of students' self-reported recess problems and the degree to which these were concomitant with two often-used measures of children's social competence: peer acceptance and mutual friendships. Seven specific student complaints were investigated, including three problems with peer conflict, three problems with social isolation, and one problem with play enjoyment. Results reveal that certain recess problems were occurring with surprising frequency. Children experienced the seven problems in 3% to 8% of their recesses, with not being allowed to join a group in play being the most frequent recess problem. Significant correlations were reported between recess self-reports and the size of children's friendship networks. Some, but not all, children with frequent recess problems were of low peer acceptance and/or had few identified friends. None of the seven recess problems differed markedly by grade, and few differences were noted by gender, suggesting that there are more similarities than differences in recess problems across age and gender. Correlations exist between the measures of social competence used in developmental research and children's complaints of recess problems. Contains 60 references. (RJM)

Descriptors: Children; Elementary Education; *Elementary School Students; Friendship; Grade 3; Grade 4; Grade 5; *Interpersonal Competence; *Peer Acceptance; Peer Relationship; Play; Playground Activities; *Recess Breaks; Self Concept; *Self Evaluation (Individuals)

EJ531984 CG549120
Title: Teachers' Attitudes and Policies Regarding Play in Elementary Schools.
Author(s): Newman, Joan; And Others
Source: Psychology in the Schools, v33 n1 p61-69 Jan 1996
Publication Date: 1996
ISSN: 0033-3085
Language: English
Document Type: Journal articles (080); Reports--Research (143)

Discusses research and theory of play in children's development and factors reducing the amount of play time children experience. Surveyed teachers' attitudes toward play, and provision of play for children in grades one through six. Teachers from rural areas provided more play time than teachers from suburban areas, who in turn provided more play time than teachers in urban areas. (KW)

Descriptors: Behavior; Child Behavior; Elementary Education; Elementary Schools; Games; *Play; Playground Activities; Playgrounds; *Recess Breaks; *Recreational Activities; *School Recreational Programs; *Teacher Attitudes

EJ520960 TM519346
Title: The Effects of Recess Timing on Children's Playground and Classroom Behaviors.
Author(s): Pellegrini, A. D.; And Others
Source: American Educational Research Journal, v32 n4 p845-64 Win 1995
Publication Date: 1995
Notes: Support provided by the Department of Elementary Education and the Institute for Behavioral Research at the University of Georgia. Version of a paper presented at the University of Tennessee Ethology Colloquium, the London University Educational Psychology Colloquium, and the 1994 and 1995 meetings of the American Educational Research Association.
ISSN: 0002-8312
Language: English
Document Type: Journal articles (080); Reports--Research (143); Speeches/meeting papers (150)

Three field experiments involving 145 students in kindergarten, grade 2, and grade 4 examined the effects of different recess timing regimens on children's behavior. Results in terms of prerecess inattention and social interaction on the playground are discussed in relation to play deprivation theory and massed versus distributed practice. (SLD)

Descriptors: *Attention; Behavior Patterns; *Elementary School Students; Grade 2; Grade 4; *Interpersonal Relationship; Kindergarten Children; *Play; Primary Education; *Recess Breaks; Recreational Activities; Time Factors (Learning)
Identifiers: *Distributed Practice; *Massed Practice; Play Theory

ED379095 PS022990
Title: School Recess and Playground Behavior: Educational and Developmental Roles.
Author(s): Pellegrini, Anthony D.
Pages: 187
Publication Date: 1995
Notes: A volume in the SUNY series, Children's Play in Society.
ISBN: 0-7914-2184-8
Available from: Document Not Available from EDRS.
Availability: State University of New York Press, c/o CUP Services, P.O. Box 6525, Ithaca, NY 14851 (hardback: ISBN-0-7914-2183-X, $59.50; paperback: ISBN-0-7914-2184-8, $19.95).
Language: English
Document Type: Book (010); Reports--Research (143)
Geographic Source: U.S.; New York

Noting that school recess periods are one of the few times when children interact with their peers on their own terms--with minimal adult intervention--this book examines recess behavior and its social and pedagogical implications. In addition to studying spontaneous peer interaction among school children, the book addresses issues of: (1) the role of recess in schools and the curriculum; (2) educational outcomes of recess; (3) relationships between playground design and behavior; (4) and differences in playground behaviors across age and gender groups. The book concludes by noting that recess allows children to make choices regarding whom to interact with and how to socially negotiate interactions; builds a number of high-level cognitive strategies; and raises levels of motivation. Each of the book's 11 chapters contains references. (SW)

Descriptors: Age Differences; *Child Behavior; Children; Cognitive Development; Elementary Education; *Elementary School Students; Interpersonal Competence; Motor Development; *Peer Relationship; Play; *Playground Activities; Playgrounds; *Recess Breaks; Self Motivation; Sex Differences; Social Development
Identifiers: Playground Design

EJ499269 EC610632
Title: The Effects of a Peer-Mediated Self-Evaluation Procedure on the Recess Behavior of Students with Behavior Problems.
Author(s): Nelson, J. Ron; And Others
Source: Remedial and Special Education, v16 n2 p117-26 Mar 1995
Publication Date: 1995
ISSN: 0741-9325
Language: English
Document Type: Journal articles (080); Reports--Research (143)

Systematic implementation of a peer-mediated self-evaluation procedure to improve the recess behavior problems of three second-grade boys was evaluated. Clear improvements in the boys' behavior were found, which were maintained as the self-evaluation procedure was systematically faded. In addition, treatment effects generalized to another recess period. (Author/DB)

Descriptors: *Behavior Change; Behavior Modification; *Behavior Problems; Generalization; *Intervention; Maintenance; Males; *Peer Evaluation; Primary Education; *Recess Breaks; *Self Evaluation (Individuals); Student Behavior

ED381277 PS023205
Title: Gender Differences during Recess in Elementary Schools.
Author(s): Twarek, Linda S.; George, Halley S.
Pages: 21
Publication Date: June 22, 1994
Available from: EDRS Price MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.
Language: English
Document Type: Reports--Research (143)
Geographic Source: U.S.; Ohio

A study examined the differences in what boys and girls choose, or are free to choose, to do on the playground during recess. Given the apparent problem that boys dominate the playground area, leaving girls on the perimeter, it was hypothesized that girls engage in passive, non-competitive, small group activities, whereas boys engage in aggressive, competitive, larger group activities thus making their activities traditionally gender stereotyped. Subjects were 170 third- and 232 fifth-grade children, approximately half boys and half girls in each group from two different schools in Danbury (Ohio) and Perkins (Ohio) respectively. Children completed a questionnaire that asked several questions, but only one of which was evaluated: "What is your favorite thing to do at recess?" Results indicated that the top rated activities for third-grade girls were swinging, playing ball, and teeter totter. Third-grade boys chose soccer, basketball, kickball, and swinging. Fifth-grade girls most often chose swinging, walking and talking with friends, and 4-square. Fifth-grade boys chose soccer, football, and swinging. These activities were then rated according to energy expended, competition, and group size. Analyses supported the hypothesis that girls choose passive, non-competitive, small-group activities, whereas boys choose aggressive, competitive, larger group activities. Results suggest that girls' choices were limited; boys tended to choose activities covering a wider range of choices. (HTH)

Descriptors: Aggression; Competition; Elementary Education; *Elementary School Students; Grade 3; Grade 5; Peer Relationship; Play; *Playground Activities; *Recess Breaks; Sex Bias; *Sex Differences; Sex Stereotypes; *Student Attitudes

ED376984 PS022880
Title: Playground Leaders.
Author(s): Calo, Kathy; Ingram, Pam
Author Affiliation: Maine Center for Educational Services. (BBB31245)
Pages: 4
Publication Date: 1994
Available from: EDRS Price MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.
Language: English
Document Type: Reports--Descriptive (141)
Geographic Source: U.S.; Maine

The Playground Leader program at Wells Elementary School provides an opportunity for trained students to direct structured small and large group activity stations during recess. Fourth graders are leaders in the setting described in this document, but older students could be trained in other school settings. The playground leaders are chosen through teacher, peer, and self nomination. Leaders run activity stations at all lunch time recesses so that students of all age levels might participate. The program can be operated with one or two teachers and does not require an unreasonable amount of planning and implementation time. Materials for the program can be purchased by the school, borrowed from the physical education department, or donated by parents. The program encourages multi-age interaction in a positive and safe manner. The specific goals of the program are: (1) to provide a wide variety of activities for students to engage in during recess; (2) to lessen recess-related injuries by providing safety-conscious activities; and (3) to provide an opportunity for a group of trained students to practice leadership and problem-solving skills. (TJQ)

Descriptors: *Cross Age Teaching; Grade 4; Intermediate Grades; *Playground Activities; Primary Education; Problem Solving; Program Descriptions; *Recess Breaks; *Student Leadership
Identifiers: Child Safety; *Student Led Activities

EJ499975 PS522974
Title: School Recess and Social Development.
Author(s): Jambor, Tom
Source: Dimensions of Early Childhood, v23 n1 p17-20 Fall 1994
Publication Date: 1994
ISSN: 1068-6177
Language: English
Document Type: Guides--Non-classroom (055); Journal articles (080)

Discusses the role of school recess periods in children's social development and academic achievement. Also examines changing attitudes toward the use of recess periods in the United States and other nations, and presents strategies for classroom teachers to use in advocating school recess periods in their schools and communities. (MDM)

Descriptors: Academic Achievement; *Advocacy; Early Childhood Education; *Educational Attitudes; Educational Research; Foreign Countries; Play; *Recess Breaks; Sex Differences; *Social Development; Teacher Role
Identifiers: United States

EJ463378 TM517198
Title: School Recess: Implications for Education and Development.
Author(s): Pellegrini, A. D.; Smith, Peter K.
Source: Review of Educational Research, v63 n1 p51-67 Spr 1993
Publication Date: 1993
ISSN: 0034-6543
Language: English
Document Type: Information Analysis (070); Journal articles (080); Reports--Evaluative (142)

Empirical research on the role of school recess is reviewed. Effects of child-level and school-level variables on recess behavior and the impact of recess on classroom behavior and social and cognitive competence are discussed. It is concluded that recess has important educational and developmental implications. (SLD)

Descriptors: Age Differences; Behavior Patterns; *Child Development; *Cognitive Development; Elementary Education; *Elementary School Students; Foreign Countries; *Interpersonal Competence; Personality Traits; Physical Activities; Play; Playground Activities; *School Activities; School Recreational Programs; Sex Differences; *Social Development
Identifiers: Empirical Research; England; *Recess Breaks; United States

EJ480826 CG544284
Title: Children as Conflict Managers.
Author(s): Evans, Karen C.; Eversole, Diane
Source: Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Problems, v1 n2 p39-40 Sum 1992
Publication Date: 1992
Language: English
Document Type: Journal articles (080); Reports--Descriptive (141)

Describes efforts by one school to involve students in new procedures for handling conflicts on the playground at recess. Describes creation of student council, selection and training of student conflict managers, and effectiveness of intervention. Includes lists of additional materials for educators interested in starting conflict management programs. (NB)

Descriptors: Conflict; *Conflict Resolution; Elementary Education; *Elementary School Students; *Peer Relationship; *Student Role
Identifiers: *Recess Breaks