Return to Strategies for RECESS in Schools

Gather Information on Recess

Tracking basic information about recess enables staff to make adjustments to maximize student enjoyment, success, and physical activity. Careful observation of student engagement can be useful to check whether the available choices are being used or need adjustment. This information also can be used to make the case for recess. 38

18. Track physical activity during recess.
The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that school-aged children participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily, most of which should be moderate-to-vigorous.1 Some states also have mandates that require students to engage in a certain number of minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity during the school day in addition to physical education.19 Schools might consider measuring physical activity and intensity during recess to increase activity levels and meet these requirements.39 Examples of ways that school staff can monitor student physical activity levels include tracking the types of physical activities students are engaging in, using monitoring devices like heart rate monitors or accelerometers, or using an observational data collection system called System for Observing Play and Leisure Activity in Youth (SOPLAY).

19. Collect information on recess to show the effect on student and school outcomes.
School staff can collect information on recess and its effect on students, including academic performance, student behavior, and other educational outcomes.2,40 Tracking progress helps schools know if changes are needed to improve recess or their recess plan. It also helps schools identify the specific benefits for their students. Information can be collected about the ratio of students to recess supervisors; student behavior during recess and in the classroom after recess; the number and types of injuries, nurse visits, favorite student games and activities, and play equipment used; the number of students not engaged; and the effect on academic achievement (e.g., classroom attention and on-task behavior, grades, disciplinary actions). For students with an individualized education program or a 504 plan, schools can also collect information about how the recess environment is supporting their progress in meeting identified education goals.

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15. Track physical activity during recess.
16. Collect information on recess to show the effect on student and school outcomes.