Impact of Recess on Classroom Behavior

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Impact of Recess on Classroom Behavior

When comparing the amount of time American children spend at ‘recess’ during the school day, you will see, that it is considerably less than the amount of time given by other countries. Japanese schools typically have a 10-20 min recess period between 45-min lessons or 5-min breaks between lessons, with a long play period after lunch. In Taiwan, schools typically have many recess periods during the day; children are also given 5-6 min of transition after recess in which to settle down. British schools have three 15-min recess periods throughout the day and 80-90 minutes at lunch. Many researcher believe that this recess period is key to classroom instruction.

Research was done to determine the effect of a recess break on classroom behavior; specifically working, fidgeting, and listlessness. A southern urban school district with a ‘no recess policy’, granted permission for two grade 4 classes to have recess once a week so that behavior on recess days could be compared to that of behavior on non-recess days. Because recess was not in the normal daily schedule, the students would not anticipate it, and this anticipation could not effect the results. The days for recess were chosen randomly so that a pattern would not develop and be anticipated.

The study looked at 43 children, 18 boys and 25 girls, from a variety of backgrounds; socially, ethnically, and economically. The school was located in middle class-upper middle class neighborhood and serves neighborhood children as well as children bussed in from transient housing.

This quantitative study explained very clearly the types of children that were to be studied, the specific controls that would be used, and the results that were being anticipated. Researchers conducting this test were looking for the effectiveness that recess has on the student, if any. The children were placed into two research groups; A and B.

Classroom A’s normal morning schedule is as follows.

8:00-9:30 Instruction in their own classroom

9:30-11:15 Mathematics and science in another classroom (where they were observed)

11:15-12:00 Instruction in their own classroom

On the days when the children had recess, they took a break from mathematics and science to go outside from approximately 10:30-10:50.

Classroom B’s normal morning schedule is as foll...

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...gnificant research for educators to know and that if used properly it could, and would, increase the learning in a classroom.

Most public schools have a period set aside each day for recess that coincides with the lunch schedule. This proves that schools are taking advantage of the recess method. I think that the ‘anticipation factor’ is key to giving recess the greatest impact possible. Schools would have to devise a schedule that would shift the recess periods around so students would be unaware of the days scheduled recess time. This would be dependent on teacher and administrator cooperation.

I believe that the research done has ‘real world’ significance to teachers and students alike. The changes that would have to take place are minimal and the effects that would be achieved are obvious from the start.

Teachers everywhere would benefit from using this information in the day to day running of their classrooms by saving countless minutes trying to keep the class on task. We have learned that the most important parts to a lesson are the ‘first’ and ‘last’ facts. When you add recess into the daily schedule you have another ‘start’ and ‘finish’ for kids to remember.

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