Recess: The spectrum of free-play and structured

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Backroads, Jul 23, 2015.

  1. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Jul 23, 2015

    A bit of a philosophical thread with plenty of room for those who want to chime in with experiences. :)

    I've never been in a school, growing up or teaching, where recess was nothing but free play with monitors around to keep kids from killing themselves or each other.

    I was talking to a teacher who works at a Playworks school where recess is completely headed by a trained teacher who teaches games and organizes the kids to play them.

    I found that interesting and started reading about what turns out to be quite the debate. My personal philosophy is that kids learn better socially when they can direct their own play and deal problems with other kids, but I can also see how this would be good in places where the general culture never allowed kids to really learn social skills and/or their own games prior to entering school; they need to be explicitly taught games and social interaction.

    Thoughts and experiences?
     
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  3. ChildWhisperer

    ChildWhisperer Groupie

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    Noooo, I'm all about free play during recess! They can't constantly have guided learning time all day! That's what PE is for!
     
  4. 4815162342

    4815162342 Companion

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    I'd be against a structured recess. Where's the fun in that?
     
  5. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Another vote for free play!
     
  6. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    Free play. I think it's fine to intervene if problems arise, because some children do need help learning social skills.
     
  7. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    The kids spend all stinking day having to be "on their game" and listening to an adult. Why in the name of your deity of choice would I want to take away their only real independent time in order to tell them how I expect them to have fun? They're children, not army recruits. Let them play.
     
  8. SummerIsTooLong

    SummerIsTooLong Rookie

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    Jul 23, 2015

    I am all for freeplay but I have had students in the past ask for teachers to show them how to play different games (four square, wall ball, and even flag football) and who am I to say no to playing for a bit. :)
     
  9. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    My school started implementing structured recess at the end of last year. Apparently it's the new "research based" thing for behavior problems, which we have a lot of. I'm honestly not 100% sure how it works because the paras run it. I think it might be a good idea if you made participating in the activities a choice- like offer a few games run by the paras and kids could choose between playing one of the games or just playing on their own. That way you could still allow the social skills building for kids that need it but you're not forcing kids who don't need it to participate. They only started it in K last year- I can imagine it would become increasingly difficult to implement as kids get older. Many kinders are probably thrilled to play a game with an adult but I would imagine very few 5th graders would feel the same way. I think recess can be a really hard time for kids that lack social skills/don't really have friends. I'm not sure structured recess is the way to solve that but at least they're trying something!
     
  10. msrosie

    msrosie Rookie

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    Jul 23, 2015

    I volunteered at a daycare during college where the director was all about structured outside time for all the kids two years old and over. Most of the teachers that I talked to hated it because while the director wanted structured play and games taught, she was unwilling to ever buy anything for the kiddos or the teachers to use. There's only so much you can do with five mostly flat balls and chalk.
     
  11. schoolteacher

    schoolteacher Habitué

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    Playworks works with inner city students. Our students don't "play" at recess. They either beat each other up, bully and terrorize, or they are on the receiving end of those interactions. Playworks shows children how to get along with each other, how to mediate conflict, and how to be leaders. It's an awesome program that serves a great need in urban schools.
     
  12. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Last year, we used funds to hire extra noon duty supervisors. Two of the newly hired people were asked to lead activities. However, my principal and I made it very clear that although they were leading certain activities during the lunch hour, it was completely voluntarily for students to participate (or not). Some days, the kids chose to just hang out with friends playing soccer or jumping rope. Other days, they wanted to do an adult led activity.

    Something just popped in my head: One of our noon duty supervisors trained our students on the different track/field activities that are available. They practiced all spring and a large group of kiddos represented our school in the district Junior Olympics. Our school hadn't participated in the Junior Olympics for several years, so it was great to see so many kids reppin' our school (our PTC even purchased some super cool track uniforms)!

    My bottom line: kids should have many options. Requiring them to participate in adult led recreation isn't one size fits all. Not all kids need/want this type of thing.
     
  13. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Jul 24, 2015

    Agreed. We don't have structured outside play at recess, but there are several options for students: the library is open for students who want to read or work on homework; choirs and bands practice; there are several clubs (skipping, cheer-leading, craft) that meet once or twice a week; there is a study hall for grade 7 and 8 students.

    With over 500 students outside at recess, I can't imagine doing anything structured!
     
  14. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    I hated recess as a child. It was honestly my least favorite part of the day because I was just so shy. I liked to read but got teased for that. Structured time may or may not have been better but I can't tell you how happy I was when I switched to a school that just had a 30 minute lunch with the OPTION to play or not. Being forced to go outside was not fun.
     
  15. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    And I fully believe this. In many ways I see it as an opportunity for kids in communities where all those qualities are often missed in development. All the examples I saw of Playworks were in inner-city schools.

    It makes me wonder if the program has ever been used and been beneficial in other types of schools.
     
  16. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    I'm fully for lots of options for recess. Granted, I'm the type of teacher who uses recess as break time/prep time and I really can't stand kids being in the room, but I love schools that can accomodate different recess options for kids.

    Generally the kids are forced outside, but we do have a very specific reading nook outside (really, this spot was founded to be a reading/drawing nook). One of our recess aides, for some reason, hates kids to be there. I'm all "but that's what it's for!"
     
  17. misswteaches

    misswteaches Companion

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    Jul 25, 2015

    I had never heard of anything but free play, but I'm definitely intrigued.
    A lot of problems come up at recess and tend to affect the first several minutes of classtime afterwards. Any way to reduce those problems sounds interesting to me!

    I think options would be great, because I know a lot of kids just don't like recess. It's loud, socially challenging, and some kids don't enjoy being outside as much as others.
     
  18. geoteacher

    geoteacher Habitué

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    Jul 25, 2015

    I come down firmly on the side of free play. Students are directed by the teachers all day long, and I feel that they need to have time where they design and structure their own activities. They will certainly need this skill as they get older.
     

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