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4 Types of Kids at Recess

Photograph by Twenty20

Now that the kids are all back to school most of us are settling into a daily routine again. Sure, you ask about the math test and the spelling quiz, but do you ask about recess? Turns out that recess plays a bigger role in your child's day at school than you might think.

So what is your kid doing during recess? I spent lots of time on the elementary school playground when I taught social skills classes, and I think I've seen your kid.

Here are some of the major players:

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The wanderer

Recess is really their only chance to recharge their batteries.

See that third-grade girl eagerly trying to coax the grasshopper into her snack bag? She's a free spirit—a wanderer—as is the boy teetering along the perimeter of the grass like a tightrope walker. If you're the parent of a wanderer you might worry or have mixed feelings about the time she spends off on her own. At least your child isn't getting pulled into the nastiness of cliques, but what about making friends? For most kids who prefer to play on the fringes of the other kids, recess is really their only chance to recharge their batteries. Classroom time is full of rules and distractions that can quickly become overwhelming to a free spirit. Recess offers a small chunk of unstructured time to himself, which may be exactly what gets him through the rest of the day.

Leader of the pack

You can spot these kids a mile away—whether it's the boy leading the pack to the field for a pick-up soccer game or the girl telling an animated story about her cat to an enchanted group of friends. But being a leader amongst kids often comes at a price. Adults are praised for their leadership skills while children pointed out as leaders often wear the bully label as well. But small groups at recess actually allow kids who do have leadership skills to learn what works and what doesn't through peer pressure. The child who encourages anyone who is interested to play soccer is learning to lead by example, while the child who pressures the others to ignore the "uncool kid" may learn a hard lesson when the group turns her out.

Trouble maker

There will always be those kids who have to sit out and miss part of their recess for some infraction or another. Some of these kids will be doing the math homework they forgot to turn in, while others might be sitting against the building walls, serving their sentences in 5-minute increments. Does your child seem to come home several days each week and complain of recess time-outs? Consider scheduling a conference with the teacher and see if you can find alternative ways to solve the behavior and/or assignments issues. Unfortunately after seeing the same kids on time-out row, the other students come to expect these kids to be "in trouble" at recess.

RELATED: Recess: Don't Let It Go!

The player

These are the kids who might not even be able to tell their parents what they did at recess because they did so much.

Hear them? The kids who are running, laughing, squealing and playing tag certainly get their 15 minutes worth of happy childhood each day. These are the kids who might not even be able to tell their parents what they did at recess because they did so much. These kids don't always have a certain group they play with and their activities probably vary from day to day, but rest assured that they are using their entire 15 minutes. Recess is the time these kids use to get their wiggles out, to move and to let loose, which helps them return to class more likely to focus and learn.

Ask your kid about recess and see what he says. Chances are, he's finding exactly the type of recess he needs.

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