After 15 years on school playgrounds, we’ve learned a few things.

We all learn lessons through many different places, but in 15 years in schools across the country, we’ve found the playground to be a powerful classroom…. We’ve learned recess has the promise and potential to be one of the most powerful tools of the school day. Recess has been an amazing teacher, and one we want all of our children to have as they grow. Here are some of the lessons the playgrounds have taught us:
  • A school that gives children the opportunity to learn and prove themselves beyond the classroom creates an environment that not only lifts those who most need it, but elevates all in its learning community.
  • When kids are given the tools to “play it out” when they have minor conflicts, not only do they go back to class ready to learn, they continue to use these tools in other areas of their lives.
  • When children are given the opportunity and support to be playground leaders, they will wear that mantle proudly and make a difference to others.
  • When you introduce a game that everyone can play, you’ll get more children physically active and move them beyond the sidelines.
Play is a great reminder that our students want the same things that we want as grown-ups – they want a challenge, a chance to succeed, some measure of control on the world around them and a chance to know and be known by others. These are the very components of a game, the experiences that ultimately help a person develop the skills of empathy, teamwork and leadership.
We’re glad to be a part of the movement for play. On the playground every day, we see transformative learning. And who knows? The leaders of tomorrow – the next president or secretary of state or visionary – may be at recess right now, playing four square or kickball on the school playgrounds.

More Resources


August 16, 2018

Back to School Refresher for Recess Monitors ›

Start the school year off right by using tools to make recess fun for all. As we prepare for students to head back to school, we need to prepare not just the classroom, but the playground. Recess supervisors help make school a fun place for kids to play. The following are tools to make recess…

May 9, 2018

Designing an Inclusive Recess ›

How might we help all kids feel included at recess? Part of the answer will always be students who lead by example. But inclusion is also a recess design challenge. Small changes have a big impact on recess culture. At Playworks, we look at everything from the lines on the blacktop to how students play…

March 15, 2018

Recess in the rain… and snow… and… ›

Whether it’s snow, rain, smog, or cold, weather can put a wrench in recess. Playworks is here to help. This toolkit draws on our 20 years of experience on playgrounds and is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Kids need physical activity every day, and they are healthier when they get to play outdoors. Fresh air, sunlight,…