Recess in Schools

Updated on August 26, 2011
S.L. asks from Warsaw, IN
23 answers

Good evening all. I've been spending the time since my little ones got to bed looking into elementary school recess requirements. Did you know that, except for a very small number of states, there aren't any? My daughter only gets 20 minutes of recess a day and she is in 2nd grade. I am dumbfounded by this. I thought it was bad last year when she was only given 20 minutes to eat lunch then another 20 minutes for recess. At least then she was given another recess later in the day. do any of you have concerns about recess in schools? Do any of you have any perspective on this because I am not happy about the way education is going?

What can I do next?

  • Add your own comment
  • Ask your own question
  • Join the Mamapedia community
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Dallas on

Some schools are getting rid of recess. Seriously, I just read a story about that. Incidentally, students grades also started plummeting at those schools. We had 45 minutes of recess every day, and gym every day. There was also almost no obesity. No wonder kids are so fat now. Look at the lunches and lack of exercise. Sad. It's very concerning to me. I am appalled at the direction public school is headed. We plan to homeschool. Public school was so wonderful when I was younger. I feel terrible for teachers, because there are so many great ones...but, their hands are tied.

Edit My Answer
3 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

Get involved in the school and the district. That's the only way you can understand or hope to make any changes. Or homeschool, it's a viable option for anyone who doesn't like the local schools.

That being said, I remember having recess until high school. In junior high we walked the track or played basketball after lunch every day. My son entering 6th grade, doesn't get recess at all already.

Edit My Answer
1 mom found this helpful

More Answers


answers from Cleveland on

As an educator myself I also get frustrated with this change. My college courses stressed the importance of allowing students opportunity to have choice and be able to get exercise throughout the day in order to be able to focus on the academics. I teach a special program, so bear with me on what I am about to say. However, my specials have been taken away this year so my students no longer get the extra 1/2 hour of PE each week that we got previously. We are also moving to block scheduling where specials will rotate every 6 days. Our PE teacher worked it out and it gives them less time over the course of the year in specials such as PE, music, art, and library. In addition, there has been discussion about taking away our afternoon recess (about 15 minutes). I have not been in on these discussions so I'm not sure what the thinking is behind it all except for the push for more academics in order to meet the pressing requirements and standards put forth by the state. It is so sad to see what is being required of these little ones. I teach a kindergarten class so it doesn't effect us because our principal has been kind enough to let us do what we need to do with getting the energy out at five and six years of age. She understands the need for it at that level. I'm not sure what is going to happen but as I move into my 6 year of teaching I have already seen plenty of change. It's up to us to fight for the kids because we know what is best for our little ones. I would speak to your child's principal and ask the reasoning behind it. Perhaps have some research to back up what you say. Here is an article our PE teacher sent out to all of us to was an eye opener to me. Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

Recess isn't just for exercise or to burn off energy which is OF COURSE super important. It is also to allow the kids time to process and integrate the learning that is occuring in the day. Take that away, what have we got...

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

If the school give more recess time they need to lengthen the school day. if they keep the school day the same length they have to lengthen the amount of days school is in session per year. Children are required to be in class "X" amount of hours per year, districts divide that by the days in session and need to schedule accordingly. So more days of operation = more operating costs for the district.

Basically, recess is time to go to the bathroom, we parents need to make sure our children are getting the exercise they need each day, including on weekends and during vacations.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Savannah on

Hmm. Growing up, we had a half hour lunch and one 20 or 30 minute recess in the afternoon. PE was Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Music was Tuesday and Thursday. We walked or rode bikes to and from school, and played in the playground a little bit on the way home from school. I've never imagined it any other way. Recess made me happy. :) It's not JUST exercise, it's a mental break and a little walking around to do your own thing for a minute. And to get some of that stuff you want to say to your friend across the room or in another class out so you can concentrate on school instead of "Todd smiled at me" for the rest of the day. It's good for them. My husband is a grown man and he still needs a little break in the day to "walk it off" and give his mind a break. We can tell when he's given himself a recess and when he hasn't by his attitude and mood when he comes home. If adults need it, how much more would a kid need it?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dayton on

I believe there is a terrible trend in the education system of the US. It is all about test scores now, and how well a school does depends on how ell kids score on tests. So, they are taught what is on those tests, and not much else. This is probably why some states are giving up the teaching of cursive writing. We can't let kids just be kids, to teach them or *gasp* let them have fun while learning. Kids today are under enormous amounts of pressure, and taking away any outlet for that pressure is a big big mistake.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

For as jacked up as IL is, we are the only state that still mandates all students have PE.

I firmly believe if you don't like something you have to do something about it. In a case like education, we all must be very conscious of WHO we are voting for. Politicians make decisions every day that effect things like recess time.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Savannah on

My son is in 2nd grade and his recess is only 20 minutes too. He starts at 8, lunch is from 11:10-11:30 (which according to my son they aren't allowed to talk during), and gets his recess at 230. They go home at 3. That to me is a long day before getting a break. So different then when I was in elementary school. We had 2 recesses and PE everyday.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

I would be concerned too, since it's been shown that kids learn better when they can burn off energy with regular physical activity, but unfortunately it seems we can't have everything. Schools are being expected to teach more and more subject matter to kids, especially with standardized testing, and things like gym, recess, art and music are falling by the wayside. There's only so many hours in the day and so much money in the coffers. When I was a kid, we had a morning recess and an afternoon recess (both 15 minutes) as well as lunch recess (lunch and outdoor recess combined for a total of 1 hour). I think we also had gym at least once a week and music at least once a week.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Toledo on

I'm right there with you. I make sure I don't overbook our after school schedule so we have time for outdoor play.


answers from San Antonio on

When I taught, recess was kind of at the teacher's discretion. One teacher might go outside for 20 minutes. One might go for 10 minutes. One might go for the 20 minutes, but make her class "pay" her for the wasted time by standing there watching the other kids play. There's no real rules here, from what I have experienced. Granted, I saw more of the variancy when I taught 5th grade. 2nd and 3rd it was more structured, but I was in a different district. In Texas, there is a certain number of required hours of PE (I think it's 3 days per week if I remember correctly). But recess is more of a 'play time' so some teachers find it unnecessary and it's not 'required' by Texas law (that I know of).

Sucks that the kids aren't getting the added exercise/social time, but at the same time, teachers are required to teach your kiddo certain subjects and certain material, so it is nice to know that they're in the classroom doing so instead of standing around talking to other teachers while the kids play. I dunno. I see your point, esp for a 2nd grader, to get that energy out. It doesn't make a lot of sense sometimes that the 'bad' kid gets punished by losing his recess .... b/c often, it's the 'bad kid' who NEEDs recess to get his wiggles/energy out.



answers from Washington DC on

I actually challenged our principal when he reduced recess to one and made it only in the afternoons. I lost. He said kids dont' need recess after lunch it causes them to have cramps. Yeah, BS.

My daughter is no longer required to have PE, she's a senior. So I required her to choose a sport. She has lettered every year in swimming.

As homeschool mom I take my other two to soccer, fencing, and swim because it's important.



answers from Boston on

That sounds about right - my kids might have 5 more minutes that your child does and there is no second recess, and PE is only once a week in elementary school.

What I find really odd is that in middle school, the kids take only 5 core classes (4 if they don't take a language) so unless a kid is in the band or orchestra, he or she has PE every day (music kids are 3x per week). If we can carve out a full period of exercise per day for kids who mostly DON'T want to run around (my son loves PE, my SD milked an injury for several months to get out of it), why can't we find that kind of time for the younger kids who DO want and need it?



answers from Pittsburgh on

Technically, my son gets 30 for lunch and 30 for recess, but with all the lining up, being quiet for the first and last 5 min of's about 20-IF that.
My friend's SIL, in Virginia, was appalled that in PA, we don't get a snack AND lunch break....



answers from El Paso on

Geeze... when I was in gradeschool, I had recess all the way through 8th grade. AND we were required to take P.E. Granted, it was a parochial school. I think 6th-8th graders had 1 recess (connected to lunch time), 3rd-5th graders had 2 recesses, & K-2nd had 3 recesses.



answers from Lafayette on

We are just re-entering the public school arena after my husband and I have been out for 20 years. We are finding out that so much has changed. So far, my daughter seems to have two recesses during school, one after eating lunch, and the other in the afternoon. I do not know the duration of time for each recess. I personally think recess is vital. Kids need to give their brains a break and exercise is always healthy for the body! She comes home happy and I know she listens well in the classroom and does her work, so that makes us happy.

As far as educational standards, I have been very concerned with how strict things are becoming and how much is expected for these children to learn. I also feel for the teachers as they are required to implement these changes and show success for their classroom. Teachers can often get a bad rap. The teachers I have seen so far are doing a tremendous job!

I have been pleasantly surprised how well our daughter has done. She is doing things that amaze me. She can read me simple stories and just had her first spelling test and received an A+! So, we have decided that we will keep an eye on things as she continues. So far, she is able to handle what she is required to learn. If that changes and she becomes stressed, we will look for options to help her. And if it gets really bad, and options through the school don't work, I'll pull her out and we'll try to homeschool, where we can have one on one learning time. I absolutely will NOT have my children unduly stressed over education. That's what concerns me the most. I have heard of children crying in THIRD grade over their classes and what they have to learn. The standards our educational system are pushing are very concerning and I think elementary aged children are not able to handle that kind of continuing stress.

I would suggest going to the school and voicing your concerns. I'm not sure if each school district determines recess or if that is determined through the state. And when she gets home, let her have some time to run outside and play (which you probably do already). My mom always let us have some time after school to get a snack and to just be kids for a little while before we had to start our homework.


answers from San Francisco on

My kids (now teens) always had a 20 minute recess (called snack recess, because many had a snack at that time) from 10 to 10:20, then lunch and recess from 12 to 12:40, 20 minutes for lunch, 20 for recess.
They also got an hour of PE a few times a week, PAID FOR BY PARENTS CLUB.
It's up to PARENTS to keep their kids physically fit and healthy, there is no money in the school system to pay for it, and the taxpayers consistently vote NO on these kinds of expenditures :(


answers from New York on

Our schools are 25 or 30 minutes. How often does she get PE ? how long is she in school? It would be great if the teacher would give them a five minute exercise on days when they dont have PE. Physical exercise helps the brain to process and store what they have learned. Maybe you could print out an article to share with her teacher and the school board.



answers from Houston on

In the UK where I am from, kids get 10 mins break in the morning, 10 mins in the PM, and 1 hour to eat lunch and play.
In the school where my son goes now (private) he gets snack time in the morning at 10 am (10 mins, while they work at their desk)
25 mins to eat lunch at 11 am (no playing, straight back to class)
20 mins recess at 2 pm
I am not too happy with this - I think it should be set up differently, but it seems typical.



answers from Muncie on

School is for learning, NOT recess. It is a parent's responsibility to do things like recess. I have never even heard of a school having recess TWICE! We have recess here AND P.E. several times a week. I agree 20 minutes is not enough time for lunch.



answers from Roanoke on

It may be just my county, but my highschool day just got lengthened by 25 minutes for "recess" for the younger kids.
It used to be 8:25 - 3:10 for me, which was nice.
Now its 8:20 - 3:30
When I asked why, multiple teachers told me that it was so the elementary schools could get more recess.
I also agree with Bug.. I pay much more attention when I stretch out.
When I was in second grade we had play time first. Then reading and spelling. Then art/PE/Music (depended on the day) Then lunch. Then a cool down or nap time. Then we had math and science, then for about 30-45 minutes (depended on how well we acted) for a recess. We went in at 7:30 and got out at 2:10



answers from Dallas on

I think 20 minutes is fine. I think my girls were saying they get 10-15 minutes and can receive more time at the end of the week for good behavior.
What I hate is that they don't get a P.E. class everyday. When I was in elementary school we had P.E. everyday and music everyday. Art was included in with actual classroom work. And, we started school in September and ended in May. So, I don't understand why things seem to be difficult to figure out now.
I do believe the kids need to be able to release energy and stress through the day otherwise it hampers their learning. Something needs to be done.

Next question: Gym Class ONLY 2 Times a Month & No Art or Music!?!