All About Recess

by | Oct 6, 2015

School-time playground play hit headlines recently when the Seattle teachers’ union negotiated a guaranteed minimum 30-minute daily recess for elementary-school students. “Any teacher or parent can tell you it’s important to have time to play and socialize and to get outside of the classroom,” a union official said.

On Mercer Island, district officials banned tag on the playground. Then unbanned it. Here’s one mother’s take on the safety issues that led to the moratorium on playground touching and a thoughtful discussion on unstructured play.

Here’s a powerful Pediatrics article on Why Kids Should Play.

Playworks Organizes Recess

Meanwhile, a nonprofit called Playworks uses “Recess Rock Stars” (coaches who get in the game) and a library of hundreds of games (search or download more than 250 free games) to revive recess in low-income communities through inclusive, cooperative, safe, organized play. Jump ropes, hula hoops, traffic cones, balls—and conflict resolution skills—are standard equipment.

“Playworks’ vision is that one day every child in America will get to play – every day. We create a place for every kid on the playground, a place where every kid belongs, has fun and is part of the game. We offer an essential opportunity for children to explore their imaginations, to connect with other kids and to stretch and grow physically, emotionally and socially.

“Our experience is that diminishing opportunities for unsupervised play in our society have left kids with a very thin understanding of how to manage their own play and that it is important to have grown-ups introduce some basic rules to make play work.”

In a nationwide survey of nearly 4,400 principals and teachers in schools that partnered with Playworks in the 2012-13 school year, respondents reported they reclaimed an average of 20 hours of teaching time because there are fewer behavioral problems on the playground and in the classroom.

Read about Playworks.

What are your thoughts about recess, risk and play? What works? What doesn’t? Comment below or email discover@pacsci.org.

Visit Wellbody Academy’s Playdium to rev up your heart and laugh rate by chasing “bugs” on our ExerGames dance floor. Don’t forget to bounce on the butt-bouncers in Loft-a-Palooza to launch balls into the stratosphere (actually a netted enclosure). Fun for the whole family!

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