Relationship between the Timing of Recess Breaks and Discipline Referrals among Elementary Children


  • Alicia L. Fedewa
  • Heather Erwin
  • Jason Wilson
  • Soyeon Ahn


physical activity, movement, elementary, externalizing behaviors, aggression, children, discipline


Following recess, children’s behavior typically improves and externalizing behavior decreases. We sought to determine whether multiple recess breaks and their timing leads to reduced discipline referrals. Participants included 607 elementary students who engaged in two 15-minute recess breaks each day. Discipline referrals were coded by type, time, and time elapsed after the most recent break. Findings revealed a complex picture of the role recess timing may play in decreasing discipline issues for children. As time elapsed, the odds of discipline referral increased for verbal disruptive and truancy-related behaviors. Results support multiple recess periods throughout the day, preferably every 90 minutes.