Recess is a staple for elementary schools, helping kids to get outside and get some exercise. After a certain point, recess stops being a staple of school life and starts to be a rarity.
Most public schools have three 20-minute recess times for kids in Kindergarten through 3rd grade. Then, students have two recess periods in grades 4-5. Most schools stop scheduling recess for students in the 6th grade; however, they are provided 40+ minutes of free time during lunch.
Here are a few examples of public schools throughout the country and their recess policies:
- Recess three times per day for grades K-3. Recess two times per day for grades 4-5. (Blackwell Elementary School in Washington state)
- Recess two times per day for grades K-5 (Chula Vista Hills Elementary School in New Mexico)
- Recess three times per day for grades K-3. Recess two times per day for grades 4-5. (Elrod Elementary School)
- A 20-minute recess period in the morning, and 45-minutes for lunch in all grades K-5. (Roland Elementary School)
- Three recess periods for grades K-4, and two recesses for grade 5 (Roosevelt Elementary School).
- Three recess periods for grades 1-3. Only one recess for the half-day Kindergarten, and two recess periods for grades 4-5 (Hilbert Elementary School).
- Half-day kindergarten has two recesses. Three recess periods for grades 1-4. Two recess periods for grade 5 (Elkhorn Elementary School).
Regulations and Laws on Duration and Frequency of Recess for School Kids
The 2015 report Shape of the Nation (quoted by US Play coalition) gathered information in many states regarding recess duration and frequency. Here are some of the findings from the report.
- Arizona – Requires two recess periods per day for grades K-5.
- Arkansas – Requires 40 minutes of recess per day.
- Colorado – Requires 600 minutes per month of physical activity that may include recess.
- Connecticut – Requires 20 minutes of daily exercise which may include recess.
- Delaware – Requires recess daily for elementary school students, but no duration is specified.
- Florida – 20 minutes per day of free play are required as of a 2017 law.
- Hawaii – At least 20 minutes of recess daily is required and cannot be withheld as a punishment for bad behavior according to a 2006 Wellness Guideline mandate.
- Indiana – Schools are required to provide 20 minutes of physical exercise per day which may be part of recess.
- Michigan – 30 minutes of physical activity and at least 20 minutes of activity breaks such as recess is required for all grades according to the State Board of Education.
- Missouri – Schools are required to provide one period of recess per day and no less than 150 minutes per week of physical activity which may include recess or PE.
- New Jersey – 20 minutes per day of recess to be held outdoors is required. Recess cannot be withheld as a punishment except for violations of the code of conduct.
- North Carolina – 30 minutes per day of recess and 30 minutes per day of physical activity are required in grades K-5.
- Vermont – 30 minutes of daily physical activity is require for all grades K-12. PE is also required but recess can count for part of the time.
- Virginia – 20 minutes of recess per day is mandated according to a 2006 state board rule.
- Rhode Island – 20 minutes per day of activity breaks such as recess or lunch are required.
- Tennessee – 130 minutes of physical activity are required per week, which could be recess or PE.