Does recess have an effect on student learning?

As the children begin their day by eating breakfast and going through their daily routine of centers they engage in stimulated play. After the centers and structured learning is done, it is time for recess. In my observations, on days where the weather doesn’t agree with outdoor activities the students will wander down to an indoor room that is used for martial arts. The teachers provide the students with a bag of balls and room to run. On nice days, the students take a brief walk to the towns hockey rink. This is where the children proceed to simply run around the empty rink with no stimulation for creative play.

Afterwards, the class heads back to the classroom they have a seat on the carpet and listen to a story until its time for lunch. Children seem to have difficulty sitting still and paying attention. Could the possibility of low stimulation during recess cause difficulty in the classroom? Should schools be required to provide a stimulating playground or at the very least, stimulating outdoor toys?

Is Recess Important For Kids Or A Waste Of Time? Here’s What The Research Says | TIME

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Run, run, run…but is there any learning being done?

As I stand and occasionally run alongside the children during their 30 minute recess I can’t help but to think of how boring this all is. There are always a handful of the 3-5 year olds standing against the wall all because there’s nothing to do but run. With such low stimulation and motivation to play my thoughts all come back to whether or not this takes a toll on the students learning abilities. The amount of development that takes place during recess is overwhelming but does that change when the environment is less than stimulating?

Research Shows…

Research has shown that along with physical benefits, recess can have emotional and social benefits as well. Have you ever noticed that everyday adults in the workforce are required to take at least one break a day but more and more adults are pushing for no breaks for students? There is an importance of needed brain breaks that are stimulating and nourishing to the overall well-being of the child. There is also research that shows that the type of play equipment or environment in which recess is held can have an effect on children’s behavior.


Brez, C., & Sheets, V. (2017). Classroom benefits of recess. Learning Environments Research20(3), 433–445.

Chmelynski, C. C. (1998). Is recess needed? Education Digest64(4), 67–68.

Kercood, S., & Banda, D. R. . (2012). The Effects of Added Physical Activity on Performance during a Listening Comprehension Task for Students with and without Attention Problems. International Journal of Applied Educational Studies13(1), 19–32.

Venable, S. (2017). Recess and Academic Achievement. National Teacher Education Journal10(1), 75–78.