Play during recess: primary school children’s perspectives and agency

Styliani Prompona, Despina Papoudi, Kallirroi Papadopoulou

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School recess as a valued component of school life is under challenge. The present study aims to investigate the pupils’ perspectives about the role and the meaning of play during school recess recognising the role of the children as agents in their own development and considering play as a socio-cultural activity undertaken, developed and invested with meaning by the children themselves. The study was conducted in a primary school in the area of Athens, Greece and 82 children between the ages of 6 and 12 years participated in 12 focus groups. The data were analysed utilising thematic analysis and four central themes emerged: (1) social interaction, (2) freedom in choosing and making decisions, (3) personal satisfaction and development, and (4) intense feelings and struggle. These themes indicate the value of play for the children themselves and its role in children’s exercising and affirming agency. The findings of this study generate opportunities to consider the need to respect children’s perspectives about issues that matter to them and to consider further implications for research as well as for policy and practice.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalEducation 3-13
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jul 2019


  • Children
  • agency
  • primary school
  • recess
  • play


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