Recess is the place where kids shine. On the playground, children belong, contribute and are a part of the game. On the playground, kids can discover their own superpowers.
We can help students feel this sense of empowerment and belonging by making recess great for all kids. What makes a great recess…? Take a step out onto your child’s playground and ask yourself…
Do kids feel included?
Prevent exclusion on the playground by having students invite their peers to play. When creating teams, count off with 1s and 2s or apples and oranges so that no one is picked last.
Do kids solve their own conflicts?
Teach kids to use rock-paper-scissors to settle disputes. Rock crushes scissors; scissors cut paper; paper covers rock. It’s simple, takes just a few seconds and it’s invaluable in keeping the games going during recess. You can reinforce this at home too.
Have kids agreed upon safe and fair sets of rules to the games?
Kids and adults can work together to teach a "Game of the Week" every Monday and do a practice round to make sure everyone understands how to play.
Are there several different games for kids to play?
Provide equipment for a variety of different games. Teach students how to play those games to get more students involved. You can find rules to games, such as Band-Aid Tag, Jump Rope, Switch, Four Square and Three Lines Soccer in our online games library.
Are there designated places for each game?
Be sure there’s a place for every kid to play. Create a map of the playground by designating areas for jump rope, basketball and other games. No painted lines? Use chalk or cones. Make sure everyone, especially those who supervise recess, are familiar with the map.
Do the kids feel encouraged?
Make high-fives and positive feedback to team members AND the opposing team a rule of every game. Kids will learn good sporting behavior, and it will reduce the spillover of conflict into the classroom.
Are kids in charge?
Older students can be assigned to distribute equipment, split kids into teams and encourage high-fives. It builds leadership and gives all kids a sense of ownership over how recess goes.
Do grown-ups join the kids in play?
Kids love adults who play! Playground supervisors — even parent volunteers — can join the games. There is no better way to engage kids who don’t usually participate and get kids positively engaged (not to mention prevent disciplinary issues). Have fun, be supportive, and win or lose graciously.
What tips do you have to make recess great?