Principals in Boston are seeing many new needs from their students with schools fully reopen this fall. We’ve heard from many school leaders that beyond lost learning time, students have lost playing time. Out at recess, it’s clear they’re unsure how to engage with each other.
More used to being behind screens, middle school students are having a particularly hard time. That’s why 14 recess teams are coming together for the Recess Remix workshop series, a new initiative from the Boston Public Schools Health & Wellness Department focused on high quality recess for 4th-8th grade students.
“We know that as students returned to full-time in-person learning, there was an urgent need to prioritize health and well-being, make connections with peers, and create opportunities for joy and play,” says BPS Physical Activity Program Coordinator Sravanthy Neeraja. “We’re focusing on promoting safe, quality recess this year because we know that it can help address all of these things.”
Over the course of this school year, two cohorts of Boston Public Schools will go through a training series with Playworks Trainer Molly Rosen to learn engaging recess games, practice empowering group management systems, and design an active recess plan for their school community. Each school will also participate in an on-site Consultation Visit at their school, utilizing the Great Recess Framework to adjust and refine their action plan.
Students in large urban districts are likely to have fewer minutes for recess or to not have recess at all, a missed opportunity for physical activity. According to a study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, recess offers nearly half of the opportunities available to promote physical activity among kids during the school year. However, recess doesn’t always fulfill its potential for the positive impact it can have on the school day. Without proper staffing, training, and planning, many issues from recess can spill over into the rest of the school day.
Thankfully, Boston Public Schools ensures in their wellness policy that students in grades PK-8 have at least 20 minutes of daily recess and at least 150 minutes of in-school physical activity weekly. The 14 schools coming together as part of the Recess Remix training this year will learn best practices for making the most of this active time at school.
“Our goal is to create a culture around the joy of movement, and to do so we need to support our staff across the district to ensure they have the resources they need to help build that culture within their schools,” says Neeraja.
The first cohort of 7 Boston Public Schools came together for the first time this week and will complete their training this fall, but the January cohort is still accepting applications. If your school is interested in participating or finding out more about the ways Playworks can support your students, please reach out to Playworks Partnership Director Dawn Lavallee.