April 20, 2018

Survey Reveals Teachers Place High Value on School Recess

Play. Works.

That's the finding from a recent survey of elementary school teachers conducted by International Playground Equipment Manufacturers Association (IPEMA) and Voice of Play. Play works to encourage physical activity, improve classroom behavior and enhance academic performance. It also works to build friendships, reduce bullying and motivate students to engage in social and cooperative activities. Here are the findings from the survey:

The preferred way to play is outdoors, unstructured, and on the playground

Of the teachers surveyed, 93 percent said that their school currently offers recess for its students, and the average length is 25 minutes per day. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 20 minutes of recess per day. The primary location of recess, according to 87 percent of those surveyed, is outdoors and on a playground, and 89 percent said children are supervised all the time during recess. About half do not have structured recess (meaning they participate in activities chosen by the teacher or other school faculty).

Teachers use recess as a motivator

Nearly two in three elementary school teachers use recess to motivate their students, and 86 percent have at one time decreased or taken away recess time as punishment for bad behavior. Teachers also said they benefit from recess, too – 64 percent said that recess allows them to take a break and collect their thoughts and recharge, 38 percent said it gives them an opportunity to plan the rest of the day, and 26 percent said it allows them to play and exercise as well.

Teachers agree recess is essential to student development, behavior and social interactions

After recess, 81 percent of teachers said that kids’ behaviors changes positively. These changes include more positive moods, longer attention spans, fewer behavior issues, increased participation in class, more eagerness to learn, and improved academic performance. In terms of students who tend to behave badly, nearly all the teachers surveyed – 97 percent – agreed that recess improves their behavior. Also, 95 percent agree that recess improves their students’ social interactions, 78 percent noted their students are focused and ready for their next lesson when they return from recess and 100 percent said recess is essential for young students’ mental and physical development.

Bullying is real, but teachers agree recess can help

Across the U.S., bullying remains an ongoing issue, and 67 percent of the teachers surveyed said at some point, they have observed this behavior among students, including 38 percent before recess, 55 percent during recess, and 39 percent after. Among those surveyed, 64 percent of teachers agree that recess reduces bullying.

The information gathered by IPEMA and Voice of Play is an important reminder that play and recess are vital elements of the school experience. Learn more about GameTime's efforts to create active, healthy and positive play spaces in public and private schools at gametime.com/schools.