Play Your Way to Better Grades: A Look at Possible Academic Benefits of Recess and Teacher Perspectives



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Background: Recess within the school day has historically supported students’ social and emotional growth, but in recent years, increasing pressure to ensure academic progress has led some school systems to reduce or eliminate recess. Recess creates an environment where students can naturally develop these skills, which are not always directly taught within the classroom. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of recess on academic progress and investigate teachers’ perceptions of the value of recess for kindergarten students. Methods: Over the course of one year, de- identified archival data were collected from two elementary schools within the same Texas school district with similar student demographics. Kindergarten students’ reading progress was measured using the Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System. Teachers were asked to participate in a focus group to provide their perceptions of the effects of recess. The quantitative data were analyzed using ANCOVA. Data were also analyzed by sex, ethnicity, special education eligibility, and limited English proficiency (LEP) to determine whether these variables played a significant role in the effects found in this study. Results: Results of comparing the two schools indicated that the students attending the school that increased recess opportunities made significantly more academic progress (M=5.04., SD=.86) than those in the control group (M=3.78., SD=1.37). Results indicate a large effect size (2=.27). Four teachers at the school that increased recess, participated in a focus group and reported that their students’ behavior and quality of work improved with recess. No significant differences were found among sex, LEP, or ethnicity. Conclusion: Increasing recess opportunities had a positive effect on kindergarten students’ academic progress as measured by reading scores. Also, teachers who taught at the school that increased recess and participated in a focus group, had positive perceptions about how recess affected their kindergarten students.



Recess, Kindergarten, Academic achievement, Play