OBJECTIVES. This study examines the amount of recess that children 8 to 9 years of age receive in the United States and compares the group classroom behavior of children receiving daily recess with that of children not receiving daily recess.
METHODS. This is a secondary analysis of a public-use data set, the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998–1999, third-grade data set. Children were categorized into 2 levels of recess exposure, that is, none/minimal break (<1 break of 15 minutes/day) or some recess. Some recess was further categorized into 5 levels on the basis of frequency and duration of recess. Child, parent, school, and classroom characteristics of those with and without recess were compared. The group classroom behavior was assessed by using the teacher's rating of class behavior.
RESULTS. Complete data were available for 10301 to 11624 children 8 to 9 years of age. There were equal numbers of boys and girls (boys: 50.3%). Children exposed to none/minimal break (30%) were much more likely to be black, to be from families with lower incomes and lower levels of education, to live in large cities, to be from the Northeast or South, and to attend public school, compared with those with recess. Teacher's rating of classroom behavior scores were better for children with some recess than for those with none/minimal break. This finding was maintained in multivariate regression analysis. However, among children receiving daily recess, the teacher's rating of class behavior scores did not differ significantly according to the level of exposure.
CONCLUSIONS. These results indicated that, among 8- to 9-year-old children, having ≥1 daily recess period of >15 minutes in length was associated with better teacher's rating of class behavior scores. This study suggests that schoolchildren in this age group should be provided with daily recess.