A Little Free-Range Moment at Recess

Hi Folks! Just spoke at the Wellesley Mothers Forum — really fun. And now comes this nice note. Hope springs! – L


Dear Free-Range Kids: I wanted to share with you my Free-Range moment with my fourth grade students.  In Ontario, we’re experiencing some political unrest in our schools due to the legislation of Bill 115, which strips teachers of their right to strike or take job action.  As a result, teachers are individually deciding NOT to volunteer with extra-curricular activities, especially ones that take place outside of the school hours.  I’m not trying to get into a debate about the role of the teachers or government in this but I think many will like what my students have done.


As a result, a few teachers at my school have decided to run a soccer house league during lunch hour for our students in grades 4-6.  We have about 150 students in these grades.  Typically, our extra-curriculars are very popular because most of our school population stays for lunch and we are a high needs, low-income area so free programs are usually filled quickly.  My colleagues and I were very surprised that only 12 kids signed up!  I asked my students why they didn’t sign up.  Did they not know about it?  Are they going home for lunch now?  Do they not have running shoes?  ”No,” one of my students explained, “We’d rather go outside and play our own game of soccer.”  What???  ”We don’t need a teacher to help us play a game.”
That’s right!  My students are capable enough that they can find a bunch of kids, a ball, some grass, organize their teams and a code of conduct for scorekeeping.  Imagine that!  Kids organizing their own sports and games!
Jennifer Tobin
Whitby, ON
PS Looking forward to hearing you at the Parents as Partners conference with Durham DSB later this month!
Thanks, Jennifer! How great to be reminded that kids don’t NEED us all the time! This idea of adults supervising and organizing everything for kids is new and unnecessary and sometimes even absurd!

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