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