Classroom benefits of recess
Despite research demonstrating the importance of recess and free play for children, schools have been reducing free play time for more academic pursuits (Ramstetter et al. in J Sch Health 80:517–526, 2010; Waite-Stupiansky and Findlay in Educ Forum 66:16–25, 2001). Recently, there has been renewed interest in understanding the critical role that free play has for children’s development. The current study was designed to contribute to this literature as well as investigate how the type of environment in which children play influences their behaviour in the classroom. Children in grades 3–5 were tested before and after recess on cognitive measures of sustained attention and creativity. We found an increase in children’s sustained attention after recess. We additionally found that the type of environment in which children played differed depending on children’s behaviour and traits. Our findings suggest that recess is an important factor in children’s performance in school and should be considered an important part of the school day. Furthermore, we suggest that researchers should consider how individual differences influence the relationship between recess and children’s performance in the classroom. Implications of this research for schools are considered.
KeywordsAttention Creativity Free play Playground environments Recess
We would like to thank Clay Community Schools and Rockville Community School Corporation in Indiana for their participation in this study. We are grateful to the administrators, school principals, teachers and, of course, the students who made this study possible. We would also like to thank the undergraduate research assistants who worked diligently on this project.
- Fisher-Maltese, C., & Zimmerman, T. D. (2015). A garden-based approach to teaching life science produces shifts in students’ attitudes toward the environment. International Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 10, 51–66.Google Scholar
- Golinkoff, R. M., Hirsh-Pasek, K., & Singer, D. G. (2006). Why play = learning: A challenge for parents and educators. In D. G. Singer, R. M. Golinkoff, & K. Hirsh-Pasek (Eds.), Play = learning: How play motivates and enhances children’s cognitive and social-emotional growth (pp. 3–12). New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Lezak, M. D. (1995). Neuropsychological assessment (3rd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Milteer, R. M., Ginsburg, K. R., The Council on Communications and Media, & Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health. (2012). The importance of play in promoting healthy child development and maintaining strong parent–child bond: Focus on children in poverty. Pediatrics, 129, e204–e213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Pittman, J. (2011). Inquiry-based math in school gardens. Connect Magazine, 24, 4–7.Google Scholar
- Runco, M. A. (1991). Divergent thinking. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.Google Scholar
- Silvia, P. J., Winterstein, B. P., Willse, J. T., Barona, C. M., Cram, J. T., Hess, K. I., et al. (2008). Assessing creativity with divergent thinking tasks: Exploring the reliability and validity of new subjective scoring methods. Psychology of Aesthetics Creativity and the Arts, 2, 68–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar