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School recess and group classroom behavior


Children’s classroom behavior is better if they have recess

Recess provides one of the few opportunities for children to engage in free play and physical activity at school and to potentially be outdoors. Barros and colleagues investigated the amount of recess 8- to 9-year-old children have in the U.S. and compared the classroom behavior of children who receive and do not receive daily recess. The researchers analyzed data from a nationally representative sample of over 10,000 third-grade children in public and private schools. As part of this study, a wide range of data was collected, including interviews with children and surveys of teachers, parents, and school administrators. In analyzing the data, Barros and colleagues found that 30% of children had no recess at all or less than a 15 minute daily break. The researchers found that children with less than 15 minutes of recess a day were significantly more likely to be black or Hispanic, live in a large- or medium-sized city, live in the South, attend public school, and come from families with lower income and less parental education. In examining school behavior, Barros and colleagues found that teachers’ rating of overall classroom behavior was better for children with some recess as compared to those with none/minimal break, however, the frequency and amount of recess was not significant. This study provides valuable information about the amount of recess 8- to 9-year-old children receive and relationships to classroom behavior.


Barros, R. M., Silver, E. J., Stein, R. E. K., (2009). School recess and group classroom behavior. Pediatrics, 123(2), 431-436.

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