Now, Even Recess Gets a Teacher
'Recess coaches' straighten out America's schoolyards
By Emily Rauhala, Newser User
Posted Mar 15, 2010 8:32 AM CDT
No hopscotch for you! Schools across the country are reigning in recess, opting, instead, for structured play.   (Shutter Stock)

(Newser) – In a bid to prevent bullying, foster social skills, and fight obesity, schools across the country are reining in recess. At one Newark school, that meant hiring a "recess coach" to lead games and watch out for wallflowers. "Coach Brandi does miracles with 20 cones and three handballs,” says the principal. The new approach has cut disciplinary problems and injuries, she adds.

Hundreds of schools are taking the same approach, many with the help of a California-based nonprofit called Playworks. But as more schools sign on, there's a backlash brewing on the blacktop. "It’s just not natural,” one parent tells the New York Times. “I just can’t imagine going through the entire day without a break.” At least one expert agrees: kids must “be free to do what they choose to do” and benefit from using their imaginations, says the author of an influential study on recess.

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Mar 17, 2010 2:32 PM CDT
I’m glad to see this is sparking a discussion about recess and playtime. Recess is different for our kids now than it was when we were all kids. Back then, older kids taught the younger kids the rules, like how to pick teams or settle arguments, and so on. But kids don’t get to go outside and be unsupervised the way they used to, especially in inner-city neighborhoods. So when they come to school, they don’t bring the same skills and sadly don’t know how to play. At Playworks, I work with parents and I hear the same thing you’re saying: that there’s not enough playtime for kids in the day. Schools all over are cutting recess because they say it impinges on instructional time or feels unsafe. But schools that want to do the right thing have found that we can help make it possible for kids to play together safely AND have fun, giving them an alternative to cutting recess. I couldn’t agree more with what you said about organizing play. Structured versus unstructured recess is really a false choice. We’re not organizing the playground to control kids. We’re organizing it so kids can take playtime into their own hands-and believe they freely and enthusiastically do! – Paula, Playworks
Mar 15, 2010 11:55 PM CDT
I've got a feeling this idea came from somebody who never got picked at dodgeball.
Mar 15, 2010 4:55 PM CDT
I though California couldn't afford to hire more teachers?