Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Learning how to play at recess

Every evening at dinner I like to ask my son what he did at school. If I am lucky, I will ask the specific enough question to get him to tell me about an actual event that happened (instead of getting the "I don't know" or "it was good" stock answer). I love it when he tells me about his day, and it is worth it to figure out the right series of questions to get him to talk about it - suddenly a whole world of information will come out of him and I get lots of insights.

One area that I would love to learn more about is what he is doing at recess.

Recess is a hard area for me to ask questions about. I can ask him who he played with or what area of the playground they were on, but from that point, we get a little stuck. He either doesn't know or doesn't remember the names of the games they were playing or they were spontaneous games made up by him and his friends and don't have a name. (And the rules are so hard to follow, I think he is just playing Calvinball.)

So, I was interested in this article by the Atlantic making the case that schools need to teach children how to play at recess. At first glance, it is a little insane: Recess is supposed to be unstructured free time for children to get out their energy and socialize. Why would we bring adults into the mix? But after some additional findings that the semi-structured atmosphere (teach the game, set it up and then leave children to it) reduces discipline issues and gives the adults who monitor recess better tools, it makes a little more sense.

I will keep asking my son about recess and see what stories he will eventually tell me. I've told him how when I was a little girl my school had a parking lot for us to play in and no playground. He didn't seem too impressed.

What games did you like to play at recess? Tell me in the comments.

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