My son started Kindergarten this year and I was thrilled to find out he would be participating in Physical Education classes, as well as music and art. In the past Kindergartners were not given the opportunity to participate in P.E. or fine arts, nor are they given recess, but I figure that is due to the fact they are only in the classroom for 2.5 hours! I think it is so important to expose kids at an early age to physical activity and the arts. Both are passions of mine, and I am always disheartened to hear when school budgets are cut and the first thing to go are physical education and fine arts classes. P.E. classes at my children’s school, however, are different than they were for me growing up. I remember learning different sports, such as softball, basketball, gymnastics, and soccer. The classes my daughter describes seem more centered around games….sometimes involving a scooter that the student lays or sits on…. Anyhow, I am just glad the kids are moving around and getting some exercise, especially since it seems half the time they end up having indoor recess!
Which brings me to the next subject……why are kids having indoor recess and what are they doing during that time? I recall only have indoor recess when it was raining or snowing heavily and we stayed in the classroom and played games. At my children’s school it seems they have indoor recess way too often and they end up watching part of a movie. To credit the teachers and staff I was informed the students are given a choice between a movie, legos, drawing, or games. Unfortunately, my child just happens to choose spacing out over tv. Ugh. I chatted with my daughter about bringing in other things to do for indoor recess such as Spot It or bracelet making, like the Rainbow Loom, which she desperately wants.
I still don’t understand why indoor recess occurs as much as it does at my children’s school. Even when it is not raining or snowing, outdoor recess seems to get cancelled. Perhaps the grounds are wet and/or muddy, but I think the students should at least get out of the building for some fresh air! I understand if administrators are worried about liability issues with the wet equipment, but couldn’t the students stick to the black top or grass? If administrators are worried that children will get wet or muddy, they could institute a policy where every child brings a change of clothes. I know of some private schools that mandate this and therefore, it is rare the kids are ever inside during recess. During the winter months recess seems to be indoors more often than not, and it snows here maybe twice a year (and not very much). Yes, it is cold, but it’s not frigid, and I see no reason why the students (dressed properly) can’t be outside for 30 minutes!
Recess (and physical education) is an integral part of a child’s development. It hones their social skills by allowing them to make and follow their own rules/games; talk, cooperate, and negotiate with their peers; and in general just socialize and develop friendships. Outdoor recess is not just a time where they can get some exercise, in this country where obesity is a problem, but it allows them to release anxieties or tension, goof off, work off steam, and have some fun. Outdoor recess is a win win situation for both students and teachers. It heightens students’ concentration and improves behavior in the classroom. The benefits of recess greatly outnumber the disadvantages.