Playworks: Supporting Play and Physical Activity in Low-Income Elementary Schools

This brief is one in a series of final reports from the Study of Playworks Implementation in Eight Bay Area Schools. It examines the ways that Playworks changes play and physical activity opportunities at school and reports students’, teachers’, and principals’ views of the program’s effects on students and school climate. This brief builds on earlier study publications, including a literature review, a theory of change model, an interim report, and a final report.

Findings include:

  • Eighty-eight percent of teacher survey respondents reported that Playworks led to an improvement or substantial improvement in recess organization.
  • Seventy-eight percent reported an improvement or substantial improvement in students’ abilities to start and sustain games without adults.
  • Ninety-one percent of fifth grade boys reported playing games and sports at recess compared to 77% of girls.
  • Seventy-seven percent of teachers surveyed reported that girls’ engagement in games and activities at recess had improved or substantially improved over the course of the year.
  • Eighty-three percent of teacher survey respondents indicated that there had been improvement or substantial improvement in students’ physical activity at recess.

School policies that prevent students from participating in recess also constrain student engagement in productive play. Playworks might consider addressing this issue by providing a toolkit to participating schools about alternatives to using recess for punishment or completing schoolwork.