Outrage of The Week: Recess Gets Programmed

Hi Readers! Here’s what’s up at a grammar school outside of Chicago where the kids have apparently been getting it all wrong during recess. A local source writes:

 This past weekend I went over to visit a friend of mine who is a first grade teacher. When I walked in, she was watching a video demonstrating different outdoor games to teach children, like 4-square, tag, etc. I asked why she was watching and she said, “We are figuring out which games are appropriate to teach the kids at recess.”

 When I followed up I learned that during the past year, there were too many fights and “wandering” children during recess, so the school has decided that recess should be structured with the children being given the choice of playing any of three or four pre-taught games.

So now, at the beginning of the 20-minute recess, there will be 3-4 activities set up. Kids will be required to pick one and stick with it. Says our source, “They are toying around with rotating the kids through the activities or giving them the chance to switch halfway through recess, but 20 minutes just isn’t that long!”

 It sure isn’t. And neither is childhood, which is why this is just wrong.

If children need to learn the basics of some classic games, by all means: Teach them! That’s a great idea! But then – it is time to back off.

The whole idea of free play is FREE PLAY. That means the freedom to run around. To make up games. To CHANGE the game. One of the happiest days of my son’s life was when he came back from the park where he and his friends invented “7-square.” It was like they’d invented cold fusion — a brilliant idea the world had been dying for.

 Kids have structured time the rest of the day. From what I’ve seen, a lot of it will probably be spent preparing for standardized tests. Recess shouldn’t be the same as the rest of the day. It should be…what’s that word again?

 Oh yeah! A recess. – Lenore