take break

Recess (break)

Recess is a general term for a period of time in which a group of people is temporarily dismissed from its duties. In parliamentary procedure, a recess is initiated by a motion to recess.It was invented by Bronson Alcott who wanted his students to have active physical play and time to talk.

In education, "recess" is the North American term (known as "playtime" or "break" in Great Britain, sometimes "playlunch" or "little lunch" in Australia , or "interval" or "morning tea" in New Zealand) for a daily period, typically ten to thirty minutes, in elementary school where students are allowed to leave the school's interior to enter its adjacent outdoor playground, where they can play on such recreational equipment as seesaws and swing sets, or engage in activities such as basketball or four square. Although no formal education exists during recess (this fact being touted most often by the children themselves), sociologists and psychologists consider recess an integral portion of child development, to teach them the importance of social skills and physical education. If the weather is bad, recess may be held indoors, in the classroom, where the students finish work, play board games or other activities that take more than one to play. This helps encourage group activity and some of the games are also educational. Or, they might play educational computer games or look at books.

In North America, the point where recess ends in a child's education is largely dependent on the school district, though by many standards it is removed when the child enters middle school. However, in high school and college, students usually have free periods, which are similar in spirit, although usually one studies or talks with one's friends during such times rather than playing games, which is made difficult by the lack of a playground. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, where there are traditionally few free periods during the school day, a recess-like period of free time in the morning, called playtime, is maintained by most schools of all ages, as well as an afternoon break for younger children. In both regions, access to outdoor facilities during a lunch break of varying duration is common to most schools, regardless of age level.

In Australia and New Zealand, generally in public schools "recess" occurs as a break between morning and mid-morning classes. It is followed after mid-morning classes by a more lengthy break, lunchtime. Thus, the structure of the school-day consists of three lesson blocks, broken up by two intervals: recess and lunch respectively.


The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation produced a report that named recess “America’s best investment for healthy kids and healthy schools” and highlighted the innovative work of Sports4Kids, which runs recess programs in more than 130 schools in six cities nationwide.

The report, entitled Recess Rules concluded that:

  • Recess is the single biggest opportunity to raise the level of physical activity for all children.
  • The most vulnerable children are getting shortchanged when it comes to recess.
  • Schools struggle to manage recess effectively and are desperate for help.
  • Reclaiming recess is possible and offers significant benefits for the kids and schools.
  • Recess is at a major disadvantage for funding.

Based on the success demonstrated by Sports4Kids, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recommends treating recess as an integral part of every school day, putting trained adults on the playground, and increasing public and private funding for recess.

The report’s conclusions were based on a survey of 1,055 schools, interviews with public school principals and a case study conducted by the Harvard Family Research Project.

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