Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Education (Ed.D.)


Administrative and Instructional Leadership

First Advisor

Anthony J. Annunziato

Second Advisor

Richard Bernato

Third Advisor

Barbara Cozza


Recent reports have stated that schools across the United States have been reducing recess so that more time can be spent in the classroom. There has been little research to prove that more time in the classroom and less recess equals better academic outcomes for children. The purpose of this study was to discover the impact recess on elementary school students’ social competencies, emotional development, classroom behaviors, and teachers’ pedagogy and instructional practices. The elementary school is in a suburban district in United States. It has a population of 457 students. The population is culturally diverse with 10% of the students receiving English as a Second Language. The percentage of students with disabilities is 16%, and 43% of students are socioeconomically disadvantaged. Twelve teachers participated in interviews. Students were observed during various recess breaks over five sessions. The researcher took notes regarding social interactions, communications, and play behaviors. The sample size for assessing classroom behaviors prior to and following recess consisted of 30 first-grade students. The results of this study validate the value of recess and play experiences for children. The study of classroom behaviors exposed the reality that students were more focused and less fidgety following a recess break. Teachers’ responses revealed that recess was valuable for students’ social, emotional, academic, and physical development. It also revealed that teachers feel better about their pedagogy as a result of being permitted to implement recess breaks in between sustained instruction. The literature review provided evidence that block time and more time in the classroom with minimal breaks for students is poor practice and a detriment to proper child development. Research has indicated that recess is essential for children’s social, emotional, creative, and cognitive well-being (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2013; Barros, Silver, & Stein, 2009). Children’s experience, however, varies widely from school to school. Future research should focus on the differences in recess mandates from state to state and the social, emotional, and academic outcomes of children.