2. Recess

Although recess is not a state requirement, most elementary schools (grades 1-5) schedule a daily recess for students. Most often, recess consists of open play with little organization or instruction. Supervision of recess is provided by a variety of staff and volunteers.

Recess is a valuable part of the school day, but should not be used to replace instructional time in physical education. State law allows recess to be used to count towards the time requirement only if certain criteria are met. (Criteria:All students are participating, supervised by certified school personnel and is aligned to local curricula and state standards.) Recess is generally not provided in middle schools and high schools.

Key Findings:

  • Recess is used as a substitute for physical education instruction in 33% of elementary schools.
  • On average, 71 recess minutes per week are substituted for physical education instructional time.
  • Recess is supervised by an assortment of administrators, teachers, paraprofessionals, parent volunteers, and other school staff.

Table 2.1 Percent of Schools who Use Recess as a Substitute for Physical Education Instruction

Note: The total valid number of schools equal 1725.

Table 2.2 Minutes of Recess Applied to Physical Education Instruction per Week

Table 2.3 Recess Supervisors

Note:The total valid number of schools equal 1656. Since it is a multiple selection question,
the total percentage is more than 100.

Figure 2.3: Recess Supervisors

Call to Action: NJAHPERD recommends daily recess at the elementary level and supports legislation to establish a task force on Public School Student Recess to study benefits of student recess and make recommendations on advisability of mandatory recess in school districts.

NJAHPERD strongly advocates recess as an additional opportunity for physical activity and not as a replacement or substitute for quality physical education instruction.

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