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Rethinking Recess
posted by: Melissa | March 10, 2017, 09:14 PM   

There are a lot of issues that arise during the school day which teachers and administrators need to think seriously about. Few people consider recess to be one of them; however, Playworks is asking educators to do just that.

Playworks is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping recess be a fun, productive, and positive part of the school day. They argue that this unstructured time of the day is critical for children’s development and too often “unstructured” is interpreted to mean chaotic and unproductive.

To help combat that, Playworks has released a new report on how schools can transform recess. Beyond calling for recess time to be protected for all students (even those who misbehave in class), they argue that schools should have dedicated recess staff and that this staff should receive training on how to make recess a positive experience for all involved. Training would involve learning how to incorporate the school’s character education program into recess and having a set way to resolve conflicts between students. Playworks specifically mentions using the tried and true “rock-paper-scissors” game as a transparent and fair way that students can solve issues between themselves.

Training should not stop here, though, they argue. Recess only meets its intended goal if students are engaged in play, so recess staff should develop strategies to help all students engage more with recess. Strategies recommended included switching out equipment to vary activities, and, more importantly, that adults stop standing on the side and play alongside the students. The active participation of adults encourages students to play, and also helps adults ensure that no students are being excluded or sidelined during playtime. This does not mean that recess should turn into another P.E. class or that adults should be leading games. These goals can be accomplished merely through adult participation.

Playworks is not alone in this thinking, either. The American Academy of Pediatrics has released a statement which offers suggestions along the same lines. They argue that a fun, enjoyable recess period gives children the experience of enjoying physical activity, which they can carry with them into their adult life, while also helping them develop crucial social skills such as communication and conflict resolution. Although they shy away from recommending the level of structure and planning that Playworks offers, they do list the benefits that type of organization offers before listing some suggestions on how to include some of the ideas without a school having to completely overhaul their recess policy.

Has your school changed anything with how they organize recess?

Share below!

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