Schools without recess, opinions? - FamilyEducation
Schools without recess, opinions?
08/21/2007 at 16:26 PM

I feel sorry for a lot of kids going back to school, a report from 2006 found that over 40% of elementary schools in America have cancelled recess. This has been going on for quite some time, in 1998 an Atlanta school made newspaper headlines for being built without a playground, and it's spread as a norm from there not to even build them with playgrounds anymore and in some cases take away the ones already there.

The way I see it, cancelling recess is a no-win situation. For one thing, the reason it's done is allegedly so kids have more time to study and bring up their grades. However studies prove kids given a recess pay better attention and do better as students than those denied it. Furthermore, what about childhood obesity? Say you want to fight it, but the kids are going to have to sit at their desks for 6 years before they get any exercise in school? And what about socializing with other kids? This is a big one that people stress when they talk to me about how public school is supposedly the ONLY way a child learns to socialize and function properly. Last I checked, talking in class was prohibited, so without recess, that's a big part of their socialization cut.

And people can argue that it's only 20-30 minutes a day, it's no big deal. But it adds up, figure 30 minutes a day times 5 days a week, 4 weeks a month, 10 months a year for 6 years, and you will have 600 hours kids can get to BE kids and play and talk with their friends and get out into the sunshine and fresh air, all GONE, replaced with 600 hours that they have to be quiet and sit down and do their studies.

Susan Ohanian wrote that in Hollywood, if a monkey is used in a movie, he is given a time and place to play after 3 days of work, whereas kids can put in as I said 5 days a week, 4 weeks a month, 10 months a year, for 12 years and for the first 6 years, kids in over 40% of those schools will never have anything close to the benefits a monkey has. What does that say about us when monkeys who will spend their whole lives doing the same things they do get to play, but kids who will grow up and have to work long tiring jobs and raise their own kids have to spend their entire childhoods at school working?

Now, I don't have any kids myself because I'm only 17, and when I do have them, I will homeschool them, even so, if I found out the schools in my town cancelled recess, I would give them a protest they'd never forget. What's everybody else's take on it?

Hey Bookworm,

My daughter's elementary school had recess and then at a certain grade level they started doing physical education instead of recess.  They were able to still do the team building and the exercise but they were doing it in an organized manner.


I am not sure how I feel about recess being removed from schools if it is not being replaced by physical education.  I can see pros and cons of both positions.


Where does everyone else stand on the issue?





I think kids should definitely have recess. It helps as a physical outlet, gives an opportunity for physical release of energy, and fights the inactive lifestyles that we are often complaining about in our kids' lives!

Having said that, my 4th grader told me that the most boring part of his day is recess. There's not enough equipment to go around, students just end up standing in line waiting for the lunch bell. So not all recesses are created equal.

Regarding playgrounds, there is one school in our district that's in a sort of desolate location, and the kids do not go outside for recess, but they do have a huge indoor gym with play equipment. (its also an Early Childhood school.) I think it's solution is excellent for its situation, and I would never argue to add an outside playground there.


In our district kids in grades K-5 get a 25 min or so recess at lunchtime and a 10 minute recess around 2pm.  The also each get a PE period (about 40 minutes) once every week.  Two years ago, they tried taking out that 10 minute recess in the afternoon but parents and teachers alike complained.  Turns out the grades started dropping on tests taken in the afternoons and kids were far less attentive.  Ten minutes is not a lot to an adult but makes a world of difference to a child.  Kids are not adults and do not have the physical or mental capabilty of sitting that long without movement.  When the recess came back, attention and test scores went back to normal.  Personally, I think kids retain more when they get time to digest what they just learned instead of just cramming more info in.


marti i have to say that P.E. just isn't the same as recess.I mean in P.E. you have to participate in the activity even if you just want to relax and talk. Plus you cant play what you want in P.E. you have to do what the teacher wants you to. You can have both recess and P.E. so kids can do what they want and have structured time that teaches them a new skill or improves there old ones.

Having grown up in a country where grade school had 15min morning recess 15 min PM recess and 45 minute midday recess, I was initially appalled by the paltry 10 minutes midday recess my kids were getting. Now my son is in middleschool and gets zero recess. BUT they both get PE every day and they both love that (which I didn't get). One of the biggest benefits of zero recess is I wonder how much it cuts down on bullying. A heck of a lot I would think. Just some thoughts!

from 1-8th grade it is a fact that u take pe most take 45 minutes + and in 1-5 grades they have gym and recess and recess is not what they need instead of building a playground built a basket ball court half the kids that go outside don't even play they just talk with their buddies and this is a fact in 46/50 states....

Unstructured time has value. Physical activity has value. Unstructured time with the option of physical activity (recess, not study hall or PE) is the most valuable.

No recess is definetly a bad idea. In elementary school, I had a total of 45 minutes of recess a day (15 before classes, 10 mid-morning, and 20 just after lunch) and it contributed very much to the fact that we were able to sit down and pay attention in class. At recess in elementary, we were provided with TWO playgrounds, games painted on the sidewalk, a lot of area for frisbee/etc, and a soccer/kickball/football field. When we reached the middle grades, we were still in the same school. However, our recess was changed to 10min before classes and 15min mid-morning. We were appalled, however, when our 30-minute lunch break was split into two sequential periods: for 15 minutes we were forced to be in the cafeteria, and for the other 15 minutes we were forced to either go outside or be in the cafeteria. (Previously, we had the choice of spending as much time in the cafeteria as we wanted, or skipping it altogether and eating our sandwich as we went outside). We also had a different area to spend our time: a large soccer field, a grassy area, and a basketball court. Luckily, we still had gym three times a week (3 x 45min, so we didn't lose much exercise/socialization time. I also saw in some of the responses that their children are only getting gym class once a week! In our school district, most elementary classes get three gym classes per 6-day cycle, and in highschool we still get 2 classes per cycle, required in grades 9, and depending on the program the student is in (not required in pre-IB 10 or in IB), in grade 10 or 11.