Kids are like puppies. If they don’t get enough stimulation, they will chew the furniture. To curtail this problem, districts across the country are pushing or have enacted recess and increased play time for students in middle and high school.
At the middle school where I work, students have many opportunities to play and interact with one another outside of the academic setting.
Academic and social-emotional benefits won’t be proven for a few years, but we are seeing less behavioral problems and academic increases in students who are getting more play time.
This play time can come in many forms. The forms of free play and play can be many or few, but they must match the vision and climate of the school.
Here are four ways to work more play into their day:
Recess specifically comes to mind as the first form of play. Free play has been a mainstay of many schools across the globe. In fact, free play is a valued part of the school day, and ranks right up there with regular academics. Our district has added 5th and 6th grade recess this year, and after some early challenges, it has proven to be a valuable part of the day. Recess occurs every day for about 30 minutes.
My school also requires each teacher to sponsor a club and works clubs into the schedule once per month. The clubs can be as simple as checkers and chess, jump rope, dominoes, fashion, basketball fundamentals or four square. They can also be very involved like yearbook, philanthropy and community service, sports reporting or the school newspaper.
Our school has intramurals once a month. Again, the children are moving and burning off energy so they can concentrate in class without vibrating all over the room. The intramural activity must be highly organized.
Students who do not want to participate can have some free time to catch up on classwork, makeup tests or hang with friends.
Intramurals can also be accompanied by the highly coveted concession stand.
Like clubs, intramurals can be scheduled into the daily routine once or a couple of times per month.
A special time for students to be recognized for their good behavior and classroom effort can be worked into the schedule once a month as well. This incentive can be attended by those who “qualify” for it. We have “Lion Time” once a month as well.
This free time could be accompanied by a special treat provided by the PTO or a fundraising club, which can exist above. Again, once a month works well and can keep students on track because they know the incentive is coming up.
The aim of school is not only academic achievement. Social-emotional skills must be honed so students know how to get along and work as a team.
The suggestions above are a good start at adding some play into their day.
The aim of school is not only academic achievement. (tweet this)