TitleRecess Quality and Social and Behavioral Health in Elementary School Students
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsMassey, WV, Thalken, J, Szarabajko, A, Neilson, L, Geldhof, GJ
JournalJournal of School Health
Date Published07/2021


A majority of research findings have focused on recess as instrumental to achieving minutes of physical activity rather than focusing on the psycho-social benefits associated with a high-quality recess environment. The purpose of the current study was to examine the relationship between recess quality and teacher-reported social, emotional, and behavioral outcomes in children.


Data were collected from 26 schools in 4 different regions of the United States. Teachers (N = 113) completed behavioral assessments for randomly selected children in their classrooms (N = 352). Data assessors conducted live observations of recess using the Great Recess Framework—Observational Tool. A series of 2-level regression models were fit in Mplus v. 8.2 to assess how recess quality was associated with indicators of children's social, emotional, and behavioral health.


Recess quality significantly predicted executive functioning problems (b = −.360, p = .021), resilience (b = .369, p = .016), emotional self-control (b = −.367, p = .016), and a composite of adaptive classroom behaviors (b = .321, p = .030).


Results of the present study demonstrate that recess quality impacts child developmental outcomes. Schools should ensure there is adequate training and resources to facilitate a positive and meaningful recess for students.

Short TitleJ School Health