Many schools, like your child's school, have reduced recess time or eliminated recess entirely -- a trend that has accelerated in recent years. The three major reasons why recess is disappearing are: a fear of lawsuits from playground injuries, a shortage of qualified playground supervisors, and a desire to spend more time on academics due to the pressure to improve academic performance. In addition, schools are being asked to add fine arts programs and programs to combat social problems which also compete with time that could be used for recess. Some educators think the answer to the time dilemma is simply to make the school day longer.
Actually, the best program for children in grades one through six is to have a quality daily physical education program plus recess. Physical education classes have the advantage of contributing to the fitness level of children. And if children do not have physical education every day, then having recess becomes even more important as it may be their only opportunity for physical activity during the school day.
Recess at most elementary schools lasts for about 15 minutes and may be held once or twice a day depending on ages of the children. As little as 10 minutes of recess filled with moderate to vigorous activity can be beneficial to children.
Frequently, recess is combined with lunch. In general, research shows that children perform better if recess is scheduled before lunch. If it is immediately after lunch, they tend to race through their meal to get to recess.