Other Countries


"In comparison to the United States and many other industrialized nations, the Finns have implemented a radically different model of educational reform—based on a balanced curriculum and professionalization, not testing. Not only do Finnish educational authorities provide students with far more recess than their U.S. counterparts—75 minutes a day in Finnish elementary schools versus an average of 27 minutes in the U.S.—but they also mandate lots of arts and crafts, more learning by doing, rigorous standards for teacher certification, higher teacher pay, and attractive working conditions. This is a far cry from the U.S. concentration on testing in reading and math since the enactment of No Child Left Behind in 2002, which has led school districts across the country, according to a survey by the Center on Education Policy, to significantly narrow their curricula. And the Finns’ efforts are paying off: In December, the results from the 2009 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), an exam in reading, math, and science given every three years since 2000 to approximately 5,000 15-year-olds per nation around the world, revealed that, for the fourth consecutive time, Finnish students posted stellar scores. The United States, meanwhile, lagged in the middle of the pack." 

from the article by Samuel E. Abrams -  linked below

Breaktime in UK

Research has been done in the UK about breaktimes in primary and secondary schools. It was done by national surveys. The studywas conducted by Professor Peter Blatchford and Dr. Ed Blaines from the Institute of Education, University of London.  It was funded by The Nuffield Foudation. 

The first national survey was done in 1995.  It showed the school day was getting longer but the breaktimes were reduced due to curriculum demand. Social interaction without adults outside of school declined. Social interaction has become the focus and concern.   There has not been any long term research done. This project was a 10 year follow-up survey.   The first part looked at breaktime duration, supervision and management, changes in school grounds and extended school services, and the perceived value of breaktime.  The second part looked at changes to breaktime and students' perspectives.

The results showed a reduction of minutes in recess, students value recess as a time to do what they want and would like to see it increase, behavior outside has declines mainly due to space and activities, and staff supervision has not increased even though student population has increased.

The site also includes previous research done on Playground games: their social context in elementary and junior school.



Harbin Elementary School Recess (China)


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Other Countries

Unofficial survey answers from a blog about the number of minutes of recess at the middle school level.


Number  of minutes


1 hour lunch plus 1/2 hour


15 min.


60 min.lunch/recess


5-10 min. between classes, 2 hours lunch (boarding school)

Hong Kong

2 recess - 15 min.


10 min.
New Zealand Morning Tea 30 min., 30 min. lunch
Philippines 15 min.
South Korea 60 min. lunch


20 min.coffee/tea time, 10 min. between lessons, 60 min. lunch
UK 50 min. lunch  plus 20 min. between classes

United States

30-60 min. lunch/recess