When I started my year of service at Brown Street Academy there was a first grader named Jayden who did not like to play with other kids. Instead, he participated in recess similarly to the rest of his day, just another time to cause trouble.
Day after day, Jayden would disrupt games and argue with other students. I knew I had to do something to help Jayden enjoy recess and stop ruining the experience for his peers, so I gave him the responsibility to help pick up cones at the end of recess. Jayden was delighted by this idea and sought to make it his sole job to be Coach’s helper at recess.
As the year went on, Jayden continued his duty as a helper and even brought his own whistle to school everyday. He would blow the whistle immediately after running through the recess doors to make sure I knew he was outside and ready for duty. He would also wait for me to blow the line up whistle so he could blow his too at the same time.
Near the end of the school year, Jayden stopped bringing his whistle to school. Watching kids play every day had finally caught up to him. Instead of watching, he began racing through the recess doors to play foursquare everyday. He started taking turns, playing nicely with other kids and participating in games because he wanted to have fun too.
Jayden’s progress over the course of this school year proves how the power of play really does bring the best out of our students, and I could not be more proud to be his coach.