Dear fellow Free-Rangers,
I am thrilled to tell you that my daughter’s school is re-vamping recess to make it… FUN! That’s right, after years of cracking down on things like tag (no touching, someone might get hurt or feel violated), cartwheels (someone might get kicked), touch football (someone might take it too far and tackle another player), etc. we now have a new conversation is beginning.
It started with our principal asking parents how to make recess more safe and productive. When another Free-Ranger and I were the only parents who showed up to the strategy meeting with articles, research studies and statistics on the importance of free-play in childhood development, we got the support we were looking for to re-define safe as “Not actively/intentionally harming people or property” and productive as “Kids playing on their own without adult intervention.”
Now, we have two weeks to come back to the school with a plan and a list of things we think the playground needs.
Big equipment is too expensive, so no redesigning the play structure. But we can think about getting small things like more balls, a boombox for music, hula hoops, etc. (cardboard boxes and duct tape for fort building…).
The principal himself even thought of buying some sort of targets to hang on the softball backstop for snowball season, realizing that rather than banning throwing snow balls, we should provide an appropriate outlet.
So, I am coming to you to ask for other suggestions, ideas and memories of your favorite childhood recess activities.
I’ve been asked to talk with the students, but the truth is, most have been so sheltered that they simply don’t know what the options are.
For myself, I remember the giant cement tunnels at my school. We used them as bunkers, and we also played games like red-rover and chicken on the top of them.
We also loved jumping off the back hill with umbrellas to see if we could fly like Mary Poppins in a good wind storm. (Umbrellas are not currently allowed at our school, someone might poke an eye out…). Oh, and climbing. We loved climbing. Everything and anything.
What are your favorite recess memories? What has been taken away that shouldn’t have been?
Thanks for the feedback! Maybe when all the kids at my school survive, and the student culture thrives, I can send our principal on tour to talk common sense to other schools around the nation. Wouldn’t that be grand! – Bree, a.k.a. the blogger at Think Banned Thoughts.