Wood chips and long silver slides.
These are the first things I recall when I fondly think of the recesses of my youth. There were days I wasn’t picked for kickball and days where someone made fun of my Michelin man snow suit.
There were even days when I felt alone and left out.
And, I learned many great lessons on the various playgrounds I spent time on. What I also know is that I was an extraordinary hyperactive child and recess and gym were my outlets.
It was my outlet and my creative space. I could push through those huge doors and run free at the sound of a bell.
It was the only time where someone wasn’t telling me what to do, or to slow down and be quiet.
My youngest son is in the fifth grade and this freedom has been taken from him. His school decided (without the help of the PTO) to fix what wasn’t broken.
Using an opportunity to gain media coverage and possibly money for piloting the program, they are restricting our children to the rules of THEIR recess. Now the kids stand in lines, and are told where to go and what to do. Because of this “structured play” there are no pick-up games of soccer or hockey.
In my opinion, there is no freedom.
There is a wellness committee at our school. This wasn’t their idea. There is a PTO, this wasn’t their idea. This was the idea of people in a room who thought controlling the children sounded like a swell idea.
These people don’t work in the field I do. These people don’t see the further lack of wellness this creates for our children. I see children who come into the hospital where I work with extraordinary anxiety issues and rigidity that could run a corporation. Play is the last thing they want to do, and often play feels too unstructured and uncontrolled. It is heartbreaking to watch. Many children in therapy or who have trauma are led to return to play to heal.
Because at the heart of every person is a child that wants to play and run free.
To climb a tree, to play a game of soccer, or to even have a clubhouse in the swing set.
“Play” and learning to “play” are a natural part of youth. To take that away from our children is in a sense stealing this from them.
The research is clear. Children need recess. It benefits every aspect of childhood development—physical development, of course, but also social, emotional and intellectual development as well. Following are seven reasons why, if we want our children to succeed, recess should not be denied.” – Why Kids Need Recess
As a working mom, I am so grateful for the moms who are going to battle on this issue for our kids. I shake my head though at all the time and energy we are having to spend on such an issue! The recess wasn’t broken, why not let the kids just play? Why does this have to be more complicated than it needs to be?
Here is the positive press (it appears the school is using this as an opportunity to sell a product) it has received so far. Hoping the other side can be told too!
Because I am unable to attend the meetings and participate in this situation, I am choosing to use this platform to share this news, in hopes that it can further spur those in charge to stop the madness and bring out recess back for our children.
I love what one mom wrote about it:
I’ve taken a week to watch recess, talk to kids and staff, analyze data and studies, have discussions with anyone who will listen and talk and the conclusion that comes to me at the end of each day…..recess is too important to not get this right. Playworks is not right. Kids not feeling “right” about recess is not right. The District needs to look again….this time with more than a passing glance. Our kids deserve better. Our kids deserve the chance to play their way. This is THEIR elementary recess and we need to get it right for each and every single one of them.”
According to the United Nations, the opportunity for play and recreation is a fundamental human right of every child” – Fight for the right to recess
If they need more evidence, I refer to a pioneer in research on play.
Dr. Stuart Brown says humor, games, roughhousing, flirtation and fantasy are more than just fun. Plenty of play in childhood makes for happy, smart adults — and keeping it up can make us smarter at any age.” Watch his TED talk here
Dr. Peter Gray compellingly brings attention to the reality that over the past 60 years in the United States there has been a gradual but, overall dramatic decline in children’s freedom to play with other children, without adult direction. Over this same period, there has been a gradual but overall dramatic increase in anxiety, depression, feelings of helplessness, suicide, and narcissism in children and adolescents.” Click here to watch more
So if your child attends this school, I urge you to sign this petition and make your voice heard. Let’s not make recess a multiple choice question when it doesn’t have to be! If not, please share this so the message get’s out to ALLOW OUR CHILDREN THE FREEDOM OF UNSTRUCTURED PLAY!