The Effects of Recess Before Lunch on Students Behaviors

Published: 2021-08-10 23:15:07
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The purpose of my action research was to see if providing recess fifteen minutes before lunch plays a positive role in improving student’s behaviors during the rest of the lunch period. My hope is that by providing behavioral at-risk students with the opportunity to play outside before they eat lunch, there will be a decrease the amount of behavioral incidences. I strongly believed that incorporating recess time everyday would help students release energy and be more focused throughout the rest of the day. As a classroom teacher, I feel that if students are more focused they will know how to handle behavioral issues more appropriately.
This research helped me find out what the effects of daily recess are on student’s behavior. The participants in the study were a mix of girls and boys. I decided to focus my attention on third, fourth and fifth grade students who frequently are suspended because of inappropriate school behavior that disrupts their learning and others. This action research is important because of the pressure to increase activity in school has come from efforts to combat childhood obesity, because the results may aid in the awareness of the importance in having daily recess as a part of students’ curriculum.
Many organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Association of Sports and physical Education, and National association of Early Childhood Specialists in States Departments of Education all believe that recess plays an important role in developing the whole child. It was important to me because I believe students should have time in the day to exercise their bodies so they can be ready to exercise their minds. This study was conducted to try to increase the knowledge known about the effects f daily health-related physical activity on a student’s behavior. Limitations of the Study This study has a few limitations. First, this study will only be discussing information gathered on six children. Therefore, there is no assurance that this information can be used to generalize to all students. A second limitation to this study is the time frame. This study was taken place over two weeks, due to city wide state testing. Literature Review There are many articles and debates that discuss the extent recess plays on a child’s academic, physical and emotional well-being.
The purpose of this study is to examine the effects of recess on students with behavioral issues. For this study, I wanted to see how recess before lunch changes students’ behaviors in the lunchroom. This study will focus specifically on inappropriate school behaviors during lunch time in order to explore the following questions: Does fifteen minutes of physical activity before consuming lunch help stop bad behaviors in the lunchroom and classroom? The purpose of my action research is to gain more of an understanding of how daily recess plays a role in students’ behavior.
This review of literature will include research on the impact recess plays on student’s developments and the relationship between physical activity and behavior. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (2007), 14 to 18 percent of United States children in grades 1 through 6 get 15 minutes or less of recess daily. About 40 percent of schools have reported that they have eliminated recess all together to concentrate on academics. The No Child Left behind Act of 2001 has geared schools attention toward ELA and Math testing.
Therefore, other “less important” subjects have been pushed to the side. However, there are many documented benefits associated with keeping recess a daily activity in a child’s day. According to Anne Santa (2007), students are more attentive and less restless after a recess break. Furthermore, Anne Santa (2007) states that recess can play a powerful role on students’ social development. On the playground or schoolyard students will be confronted with aggression, teasing and bullying. Arguments will emerge about who was out in tag or who was not playing fair.
Given these opportunities, children learn how to handle conflicts. As teacher’s we are the ones to guide students on how to handle these situations. These situations help teachers instruct their students on how to find a solution everyone can agree on without resorting to aggression. Lastly, Anne Santa (2007) mentions how recess plays a major role in a child’s physical health. The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that “all children over 2 years old get 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise on most days of the week” (Council on Physical Education for Children, 2001).
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “over 15 percent of children in the U. S. are overweight or obese” (Council of Sports Medicine and Fitness & Council on School Health, 2006). Pellegrini and Davis (1993), observed kindergarteners, 2nd and 4th graders over a few months. They noticed that the day’s students were not given a break, children’s attention decreased in the classroom. On the other hand when students we given just a few minutes for a break in between periods were able to attend more and be more engaged.
According to Verstraete, Cardon, (2006), “and regular physical activity during childhood and adolescence is associated with improvements in physiological and psychological health”. Furthermore, many intervention studies have focused on physical education classes to increase children’s physical activity levels at school. But the recommended 60 minutes a day is not met in just PE classes alone. Verstraete stated, (2006), “school time allocated to PE is limited; recess is scheduled for more periods each day, making it an important school environment factor for the promotion of PA”.
In other words, children do not always receive physical education on a day-to-day basis. The National Association for Sport and Physical Education cautions schools against allowing children to be inactive for longer than two hours (Council on Physical Education for Children, 2001). Inappropriate behaviors arise when children are inactive for too long (2001). How can we fix this problem? Recess before lunch is a school-based program that allows students to have recess before lunchtime. In the article, “Scheduling Recess before Lunch: Exploring the Benefits and Challenges in Montana Schools” by Bark, Stenberg, Sutherland nd Hayes (2010), discusses the benefits of giving students the opportunity to play before eating lunch. According to Bark, Stenberg, Sutherland and Hayes, the results of incorporating this recess before lunch program promoted an increase in healthy food consumption, more pleasant eating environment, and improved student behavior across school settings. The most challenging part researchers found in incorporating the recess before lunch program (RBL) was scheduling. Montana elementary school had to “revise class schedules, developing efficient methods for hand washing, and providing adequate student supervision during lunch blocks (2010).
According to Tanaka, Richards, Takeuchi, Otani, and Maddock (2005), found that “having recess before lunch reduced discipline problems amongst sixth grade students”. The four pilot schools in Montana who implemented the recess before lunch program (RBL) noted, “principals reported fewer discipline problems in the cafeteria, playground, and afternoon classes following the implementation of RBL. Also, written discipline referrals declined in RBL pilot schools, confirming teacher reports of improved behavior” (2010). Studies have shown that giving children recess on a daily basis can help promote health-related physical activity.
This can improve children’s academic, physical and emotional development. Allowing children daily physical activity improves attention in the classroom, which then improves recall (Santa, 2007). It also improves social interaction and prepares them for adult negotiation when a problem arises. Recess before lunch can improve children’s behaviors throughout the day (Bark, Stenberg, Sutherland and Hayes, 2010). Investing in our children’s social and physical well-being is just as important as increasing academic performance. Schools are the perfect setting to increase physical activity in children’s lives.
In this setting children can engage in physical activity in physical education class, recess and extracurricular activities after school. The current study examined the effects recess plays on 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students who are at risk for behavior problems. I used the recess before lunch intervention to see if fifteen minutes of daily physical activity over two weeks will improve student’s behaviors in the lunchroom. Research Methods This action research study attempted to measure the impact recess plays on a targeted group of students who experience significant behavior problems at lunch.
These students were “at risk” for behavioral issues and did not have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or receive mandated services for guidance counseling. I developed a 15-minute before lunch recess program. This recess program was conducted daily for a week. It took place for the first fifteen minutes for the students’ 45 minute lunch period. This study was conducted with 6 third through fifth grade students from the same public elementary school in Brooklyn, New York. The elementary school was a K-6 school with approximately 500 students.
The student population is largely Hispanic (73%). These groups of students were made up of three boys and three girls. The students in this study were identified through teacher discipline referrals, guidance counselor recommendation and lunchroom aid referral. Each source reported the students as having persistent and significant difficulties with disrespect, following rules, aggression, self-control, and poor coping skills. Following the referral of the participants that were identified as having at risk for behavioral issues, a five question survey was created.
The questions gathered information on the teachers and lunchroom aids views about recess and the role it may play on students’ behavior. Daily behavior log checklists were created to observe students’ overall behavior in the lunchroom pre and during recess intervention that observed specific behaviors of the identified participants. They were created to record specific “undisciplined” behaviors in the lunchroom; and how frequently they are exhibited. The checklist evaluated the students’ behaviors before and during the recess program was implemented. The behavior log checklist looked at 5 factors (i. . , respecting peers, can’t stay in seat, aggressive behavior such as hitting, disrespectful toward adults and poor coping skills). I used a mixed methods approach to gather and analyze data collected using an experimental design. It is important to calculate specific behaviors for tangible comparison of behaviors. However, it is also important to see how the participants felt about the experiment. The participants in the study were given a pre and post interview about how they feel in the lunchroom. The data collected was used to determine if student behaviors improved at the nd of the one-week recess program and if participants’ attitudes toward lunch was changed. Data Analysis I collected data to verify the usefulness of recess before lunch plays on students’ who experience significant behavior problems in the lunchroom. I collected data through teacher and lunchroom aids surveys, student interviews and behavior log checklists. I performed quantitative and qualitative data analysis on teacher and lunchroom aid surveys. This study included teacher and lunchroom aid surveys (Appendix A) regarding before lunch recess. Figure 1 shows the results of the teachers and lunchroom aids surveys.
Figure 1: Teacher and Lunchroom Aids Feelings Toward Recess Before Lunch | |Strongly Agree |Agree |Disagree |Strongly Disagree | |Question 1 |3 Teachers | | | | | |3 Aids | | | | |Question 2 | |3 Aids | |3 Teachers | |Question 3 |3 Teachers | | | | | |3 Aids | | | | |Question 4 | | |3 Teachers | | | | | |3 Aids | | |Question 5 | |1 Teacher |2 Teachers | | | | |3 Aids | | | The behaviors of the participants before and after the implementation of the recess before lunch assessments were analyzed and graphed (see Appendix B for checklist). The graph in Figure 2 shows the participants ehaviors in the lunchroom prior to intervention and the changes that occurred during recess intervention. [pic] I conducted an interview with the participants to examine their feelings about the lunchroom before and after implementation of recess intervention. (Comments found on appendix C and D) Results The quantitative results showed positive improvement in students’ behavior after implementation of recess before lunch, as shown in Figures 2. In Figure 2 all six students’ showed a drastic improvement in aggressive behavior and respect toward adults. There was little to no change in respecting their peers. There was a slight improvement in students’ getting out of their seats and coping skills.
The quantitative analysis of the teacher and lunchroom aid surveys showed little to no hope that the recess before lunch program would improve at risk students’ behaviors, see Figure 1. They strongly agreed that recess should be given on a daily basis. Classroom teachers disagreed that recess given daily would improve students’ behaviors throughout the day. While the lunchroom aids agreed that students’ behaviors would improve throughout the day if given daily recess. Both teachers and lunchroom aids strongly agreed that high risk behavioral students will show improved behavior if given recess. Both teachers and lunchroom aids disagreed that recess before lunch would be more beneficial than after lunch. The teachers had mixed feelings toward my last question about attention.
Two teachers disagreed that recess would help students be more attentive throughout the rest of the day while the other teacher agreed. All three lunchroom aids agreed that attention throughout the rest of the day would improve if given recess daily. The students’ interviews showed negative views about the lunchroom before implementation of recess program (Appendix C). The students’ views about recess before lunch were more positive after implantation of recess program (also on Appendix C). The students’ comments from Appendix C and the teacher observations from the checklists revealed a positive relationship between recess before lunch and improving students’ behaviors in the lunchroom. Summary and Conclusion
This action research study attempted to measure the effects recess before lunch plays on a targeted group of students who has persistent problems at lunch and in the classroom. I hoped that students’ behaviors would improve if given the opportunity to release energy outside on a daily basis. I wanted students to problem solve when playing games and transfer those qualities to other stressful situations that occur throughout the school day. I hoped that the result of recess before lunch would improve students’ attitudes toward adults and their fellow peers. After implementation of recess program students showed positive improvements in behaviors in the lunchroom.
From the comments the students made (see Appendix C), I believe their lunchroom experience improved. Most students felt the lunchroom to be very crowded, loud and time to be with friends. They had negative feelings toward the lunchroom aids (Teachers as they would say). After implementation program some students expressed they were more hungry, they made better choices throughout there day and made new friends from other classes. I concluded that the quantitative and qualitative data showed that recess before lunch helped “at risk” students with improving their behaviors. If everyone sees the importance of recess in a child’s development, then why are we cutting this out of the school day?
The behavior log checklists show that students who are “at risk” drastically improve in handling aggression when given the opportunity to release excess energy (see Figure 2). The students’ comments on the interviews provided insight to their perspective. They had a negative experience when coming to the lunchroom. One made a comment about feeling “like they can’t breathe, because too many people are talking and moving around all at once”. Another student felt lunchtime should be a time to cut loose and have fun because they never get to do that during the day. It seemed that most of the students’ felt that lunch time was there time and they need more space.
After implementation of the recess program students’ felt more relaxed. One student commented that, “she was hungrier and didn’t really care what was going on around her and just wanted to eat”. Another student said, “Running outside felt great! If we did that every day I promise I’d listen more to teachers”. I concluded that recess does play a positive role on students’ behaviors in the lunchroom. It also plays a positive impact on how students feel about giving them what they want and they will prove to you they can do better. Future Actions and Directions If I had more time, I would have liked to see the affects of the recess before lunch program had after lunch.
I would like to see if recess before lunch helps improve students attention, time on task and behaviors throughout the rest of the school day. I also would like to see how recess before lunch and after lunch affect students; is there a difference between the two? I do want to conduct a workshop or professional development with my coworkers to show my action research and the benefits that recess plays on students’ behaviors. Reflections I believed that all students benefit from daily recess. Students who have severe behavior issues and students with disabilities would benefit the most from recess. All students should be given the opportunity to socialize with friends, problem solve and figure out positive ways to cope with feelings through interaction with their peers.
They do not get enough opportunities to learn from each other outside the classroom environment. I hope this action research will open the eyes, ears and hearts of administrators to see the importance recess plays on the developing child. REFERENCES Bark, K. , Stenberg, L. D. , Sutherland, D. , Hayes, D, (2010). Scheduling Recess Before Lunch: Exploring the Benefits and Challenges in Montana Schools. School Nutrition Association. Vol. 34, Issue 2. P. 1-8 Blom, L. C. , Alvarez, J. , Lei, Z, & Kolbo, J. (2011). Associations between Health-Related Physical Fitness, Academic Achievement and Selected Academic Behaviors of Elementary and Middle School Students in the State of Mississippi.
ICHPER—SD Journal Of Research In Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Sport & Dance, 6(1), 13-19. Ridgway, A. , Northup, J. , Pellegrin, A. , LaRue, R. , & Hightshoe, A. (2003). Effects of Recess on the Classroom behavior of Children with and without Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. School Psychology Quaterly, 18(3), 253-68. Santa, A. , (2007). The Playground as Classroom. Educational Leadership, p. 78-80. Verstraete, J. M. , Cardon, G. , Clercq, L. R. , Bourdeaudhuij. , M.. (2006). Increasing children’s physical activity levels during recess periods in elementary schools: the effects of providing game equipment. Journal Of Public Health, Vol. 16, No. 4, 415-419.

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