The Refreshing Recess program has been replicated in 3 separate school districts during Spring (2013), Fall (2013) and Spring (2014). Occupational therapy (OT) practitioners implemented the program to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders.
Pretest-posttest outcomes were measured using student and supervisor surveys. Supervisor survey included questions focusing on their enjoyment of supervising recess and knowledge of how to supervise, find resources, engage students in active play, resolve conflict and interact positively with students. Student survey used a visual analog scale (VAS) to rate students' subjective experience of recess focusing on enjoyment, friendliness of supervisors and peers, and quality of activities.
Participants: 20 recess supervisors; 485 of students (1st and 2nd graders)
Student VAS results: Statistically significant improvements were obtained for students who rated the question at 75mm or lower on a 100mm scale. This suggests that students with mid- to low levels of enjoyment at recess, perceptions of supervisor or peer friendliness, and enjoyment of recess activities prior to the program documented statistically significant improvements (p <.01) of enjoyment and friendliness at the end of the program.
Supervisor outcomes: By the end of the program, recess supervisors feel better prepared to offer enjoyable activities, interact socially with children, promote positive behavior, and successfully resolve conflict. Supervisors report applying new knowledge and skills during all recess times in the school.
Conclusion: This 6-week push in program provides OTs with an efficient and effective way to help children enjoy play and social participation during recess - especially those who don't typically enjoy recess. By embedding OT services 1 day/week over 6 weeks, the Refreshing Recess program maximizes the impact of OT services by promoting play and social participation for students with and without disabilities. A combination of educational strategies, activity demonstration and coaching can be used by OTs to prepare recess supervisors to foster active play and promote positive social interaction. Structured activities that focus on teamwork encourage all children to be engaged in play, especially those who struggle with being included.