Recess is a general term for a period in which a group of people are temporarily dismissed from their duties.
In education, recess is the American term (known as break (break time) or playtime in the UK and Ireland), where it is a much smaller break period where students have a mid morning snack and play before having lunch after a few more lessons for a daily period, typically ten to thirty minutes, in elementary school where students are allowed to leave the school's interior to enter its adjacent outdoor playground, where they can play on recreational equipment, such as seesaws and swing sets, or engage in activities such as basketball, dodgeball or four square. Many middle schools also offer a recess to provide students with a sufficient opportunity to consume quick snacks, communicate with their peers, visit the restroom, study, and various other activities.
- 1 Importance of play in child development
- 2 Indoor recess
- 3 Recess data
- 4 Restriction of recess as disciplinary action
- 5 Schools emphasizing recess
- 6 International recess
- 7 Parliamentary procedure
- 8 United States Congress
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Importance of play in child development
During recess, children play, and learning through play has been long known as a vital aspect of childhood development. Some of the earliest studies of play began with G. Stanley Hall, in the 1890s. These studies sparked an interest in the developmental, mental and behavioral tendencies of babies and children. Current research emphasizes recess as a place for children to “role-play essential social skills” and as an important time in the academic day that “counterbalances the sedentary life at school.” Play has also been associated with the healthy development of parent-child bonds, establishing social, emotional and cognitive developmental achievements that assist them in relating with others, and managing stress.
Although no formal education exists during recess, sociologists and psychologists consider recess an integral portion of child development, to teach them the importance of social skills and physical education. Play is essential for children to develop not only their physical abilities, but also their intellectual, social, and moral capabilities. Via play, children can learn about the world around them. Some of the known benefits of recess are that students are more on task during academic activities, have improved memory, are more focused, develop a greater number of neural connections, and that it leads to more physical activity outside of the school setting. Psychomotor learning also gives children clues on how the world around them works as they can physically demonstrate such skills. Children need the freedom to play to learn skills necessary to become competent adults such as coping with stress and problem solving. Through the means of caregiver's observations of children’s play, one can identify deficiencies in children’s development. While there are many types of play children engage in that all contribute to development, it has been emphasized that free, spontaneous play—the kind that occurs on playgrounds—is the most beneficial type of play.
Recess is key in the development of children. Studies have shown that recess plays a large role in of how children develop their social skills. During recess, children usually play games involving teamwork. On the playground, children use many leadership skills - they educate other children about games to play, take turns, and learn to resolve conflicts while playing these games. The leadership skills promoted throughout recess are how children are able to continue to play the games. Along with developing social skills, recess helps with the development of children's brains. Recess gives the children’s brains a chance to “regroup” after a long day of class. Also, the physical activity actually leads to the development of the brain. Brain research has shown a relationship between physical activity and the development of the human brain. Another study supports these findings from the brain research. A school system that dedicated one third of their school day to nonacademic activities such as recess, physical education, etc., led to improved attitudes and fitness, and improved test scores despite spending less time in the classroom.
Recess at its core is a social experience for children and as such, plays a significant part in the development of language. Children’s intentionality with language during recess is tied closely to navigating the social landscape of the playground. Even as early as preschool, children use language to make group decisions and establish authority or a standing in the social setting of the playground. One researcher states that children use language to “invoke play ideas as their own possessions to manage and control the unfolding play,” which engages a bidding war for group leadership. When viewing recess through a language perspective, the individual experience of the playground can vary depending on a willingness to follow other’s ideas, and the development of language to modify play as it unfolds.
Depending on the weather (raining or snowing), recess may be held indoors, allowing the students to finish work, play board games or other activities that take more than one to play; this helps encourage group activity and some games are also educational. Or, they might play educational computer games or read books. It also may contribute to do something non-educational, to help unwind and de-stress from the daily workload.
Data suggests that students who lack opportunities for play do not grow into happy, well-adjusted adults, and, although schools are now focusing their attention on the test scores while eliminating recess/physical education, studies show that break and/or P.E. actually increase test scores as the students produce dopamine, a neurotransmitter involved in memory and problem-solving. Even though studies have proven that recess has many benefits for the pupils, especially those in elementary school, almost 40% of the US school districts have either decreased the amount of time for recess, gotten rid of it entirely or are considering to do so. Many believe this type of recess as not as effective as outdoor recess because the students are inside, and their abilities to be active are limited unless in a gymnasium. Without physical activities, students may be at a disadvantage and not get the excess energy out they would if they were outside, and without getting rid of that excess energy, students may be less likely to focus as well or process information better.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children recommends unstructured physical play as a developmentally crucial means of decreasing stress. More importantly, research shows that increased levels of stress impairs learning and health. This data coupled with research that suggests that recess can help develop the social skills in children is alarming a growing number of parents, educators, and psychologists, because the amount of time for recess is decreasing. They worry that the children will not have the proper chance to play. Instead, young students are bogged down with test preparation, homework requirements, and demanding out-of-school schedules. The demands placed on youth reduces the amount of time allotted to them to play and exercise. In addition, negative health issues have been associated with children that do not receive the proper amount of exercise and play. For this reason, researchers have been grappling with the problem of incorporating more play time in school. Research shows that 30% of the school day is taken up by routine classroom management activities, such as, lining up, or putting materials away. In turn, the class room management time may take crucial time away from recess. This lack of free and undirected play during recess may contribute to the rise in childhood obesity, anxiety and depression among children, as well as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes
Childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes are also a major concern as the United States youth do not get the physical outlet needed not only for their cognitive development but for their physical health. Research has shown that 60 minutes of physical activity a day can cumulatively play a valuable role in the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity. Only about half of America’s youth meet the current evidence-based guideline of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department of at least 60 minutes of vigorous or moderate-intensity physical activity daily.
Another important aspect of recess to consider is what time of day it should be implemented. Research suggests that having recess before lunch can improve the nutrition and behavior of elementary students. The traditional placement of lunch before recess, coupled with the recent decline in overall recess time, forces children to make a decision between food and exercise. For this reason, the Recess Before Lunch (RBL) movement was founded in 2002. RBL was established and organized in the Montana Office of Public Instruction when a health team started a year-long pilot to study four schools that decided to make the switch. The results from the study show that the students had increased hunger after recess and therefore, ate more food for lunch. In addition, there were other benefits, such as improved behavior in the classroom. Following the study, RBL began to spread their findings to administrators statewide, and by 2003, they had published, "Recess Before Lunch: A Guide for Success." By 2011, almost 40% of Montana's elementary schools implemented recess before lunch.
Effects on classroom behavior
One of the goals of recess is to help students be refreshed and ready to focus upon return to the classroom. Many people believe that recess may be detrimental to learning and to classroom behaviors, however, studies on this topic have proven the opposite. According to a 2009 study, children who received daily recess were reported to behave better within the classroom. In those schools which had daily recesses the amount of time allotted to that recess period did not significantly affect classroom behavior. However, a 2017 study showed that students with more than 20 minutes had better grades than those who had less.
Studies show that students tend to be less restless and more attentive in the classroom after recess. This also reduces the risk of falling asleep during class. Recess allows students to release excess energy they may possess so that their focus can be on schoolwork when they return to the classroom. Recess breaks also give students the opportunity to process information before returning to class.
Restriction of recess as disciplinary action
Due to the numerous benefits that recess provides for students in areas of health, academics, and behavior, it is strongly urged that schools move away from taking away a student’s recess as punishment for poor behavior. In one 2007 study, the authors compare depriving a child of recess to depriving a child of lunch. Oftentimes students serve punishments such as completing late work or talking to the principal regarding behavioral issues during their recess times. Many schools are searching for alternatives so that students are able to keep their recess time. There are several arguments for why taking away a recess period is used for punishment including the idea of negative punishment. Negative punishment is a phrase which refers to taking away something as punishment, when the desired outcome is observed, then the person will get what was taken back. The idea is that students want to go to recess and will work hard to keep that free period. However, by taking away recess, the likelihood of behavioral issues tends to increase because the student is unable to release the excess energy that may lead to classroom disturbances. Some schools are working towards other actions rather than taking away a student’s recess such as positive reinforcement. This may be done by offering students who did well in class a special recess award such as being first in line to go outside or getting to be the captain of a team during a game. This would encourage positive classroom behavior and still guarantees that everyone will get a recess break.
Schools emphasizing recess
Sudbury Schools have no formal recess period because the entire school day is self-directed including unrestricted access to the outdoors. It is not unusual for first-time visitors to believe "that they’ve come during 'recess.'" 
In the United Kingdom and Ireland, high school (11-16 or 18) students traditionally do not have 'free periods' but do have 'break' which normally occurs just after their second lesson of the day (normally referred to as second period). This generally lasts for around 20 minutes. During break, snacks are sometimes sold in the canteen (U.S. cafeteria) and students normally use this time to socialize (talk) or finish off any homework or schoolwork that needs to be completed. Once break is finished, students go to their next class. Lunchtime commences one or two lessons later and usually lasts around 45–60 minutes. This system is more or less the same in junior schools (7-11) in the UK and Ireland and in highs (14-18) in the U.S., but infant schools (4 or 5-7) will normally add another break time towards the end of the day.
In Australia, New Zealand, and Canada "recess" or playlunch is generally a break between morning and mid-morning classes. It is followed after mid-morning classes by a more lengthy break, lunchtime. Thus, the structure of the school-day consists of three lesson blocks, broken up by two intervals: recess and lunch respectively. There must be at least an hours worth of "recess" or "free period" a week.
The average school day in Japan is eight hours but the time in the classroom is no different compared to the U.S. but the time spent out of the classroom is what makes the day longer. A fourth of the day is spent in non-academic activities. A typical day contains the same amount of instructional time as the kids in the U.S. but a long enough lunch break to go home and eat with their family. This gives the students time to soak in their morning lesson and prepare for the afternoon session. Students who do not go home, read for their pleasure or interact with other students. When the school day is over the majority of the students do not go home, but rather stay after school for clubs and other activities. The benefits of having a longer break and several non-academic clubs after school, is that the students interact with one another and tend to have fewer physical symptoms related to stress, as well as better relationships with their classmates.
Some schools in Beijing, China allow children to spend an hour or two to socialize or to step out of the classroom per day. Some schools do not have a dedicated recess period, instead allowing a ten-minute break per class session. For lunch, students either pack or buy from the school's lunch area. After lunch time there is a quiet period. During this period, children may read at their desks or play by themselves. Meanwhile, a few students are chosen to help clean up from lunch, which may be perceived as a coveted assignment. Schools implementing a no-recess policy may not even have a playground, while schools allowing recess may have multiple playgrounds or basketball courts.
Finland students rank near the top in terms of academic testing and knowledge, and there students receive over an hour of recess everyday, regardless of the weather. Finland schools consider recess to be an essential part of the school day, and this element of their curriculum is attracting international attention.
In North America, the point where recess ends in a child's education is largely dependent on the school district, though by many standards it is removed when the child enters middle school. However, in college, students usually have free periods, which are similar in spirit, although usually one studies or talks with one's friends during such times rather than playing games, which are made difficult by the lack of a playground.
Common recess activities
Recess is a common part of the school day for children around the world, but it has not received much attention from scholars. The research that has been conducted occurred mostly in the United States and the UK. Of the fifty states in the United States, only fifteen have policies that recommend or require daily recess or a physical activity break, and one (Oklahoma) has no policy, but it is recommended by the State Board of Education.
Certain activities have emerged as playground favorites, including: jump rope, Chinese jump rope, four square, hop scotch, basketball, soccer, hula hoops, chase, wall ball, and playing on the playground equipment. These activities have been classified into chase games, ball games, and jumping/verbal games. Other categories to consider would be general play and equipment related play.
- Chase games: tag, chase
- Ball games: four square, basketball, wall ball, soccer
- Jumping/verbal games: jump rope, Chinese jump rope, hop scotch, hula hoops, chanting/clapping/rhyming games
- General play: make believe or fantasy play, solitary play
- Equipment related play: swings, slides, climbing, monkey bars, tetherball
Games and play both occur on playgrounds, so it is important to differentiate between the two when discussing activities in which children engage at recess. One way to view their uniqueness is to look at the function of their rules. Games, such as basketball, have concrete rules that result in penalties when broken. Play rules, on the other hand, are flexible and can change at the discretion of the players. There are times though when kids will bend the concrete rules of some games to make new versions of these games that may or may not be remembered in future times of play.
Recess activities run the gamut from simple to complex. Children’s gender and age affects their recess recreation choices. B The youngest children in elementary schools (kindergarten through second grade) prefer the simplest activities such as chase, kickball, jump rope, and unstructured games. As the school year progresses, it has been observed that chase games diminish and ball games increase. By the time children are in upper elementary school (grades three through five), they prefer sports and social sedentary behavior like talking.
In parliamentary procedure, a recess refers to a short intermission in a meeting of a deliberative assembly. The members may leave the meeting room, but are expected to remain nearby. A recess may be simply to allow a break (e.g. for lunch) or it may be related to the meeting (e.g. to allow time for vote-counting).
|In order when another has the floor?||No|
|May be reconsidered?||No|
Sometimes the line between a recess and an adjournment can be fine. A break for lunch can be more in the nature of a recess or an adjournment depending on the time and the extent of dispersion of the members required for them to be served. But at the resumption of business after a recess, there are never any "opening" proceedings such as reading of minutes; business picks up right where it left off. The distinction of whether the assembly recesses or adjourns has implications related to the admissibility of a motion to reconsider and enter on the minutes and the renewability of the motion to suspend the rules.
Under Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, a motion to recess may not be called when another person has the floor, is not reconsiderable, and requires a second and a majority vote. When adopted, it has immediate effect.
Stand at ease
Stand at ease is a brief pause without a recess in which the members remain in place but may converse while waiting for the meeting to resume.
United States Congress
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- Physical education#cite note-20
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- Robert 2011, p. 82
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- Bolton, Alexander (August 3, 2014). "Five things to know as Congress takes a five-week summer recess". TheHill. Retrieved 2016-02-22.
- Media related to Breaks (time) at Wikimedia Commons