On the Importance of Recess

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At the beginning of every school year, I hear the same complaint from frustrated parents.

Forget about the fact that a brand new school year can be completely overstimulating as kids start fresh, exhausting as they transition from summer, and anxiety producing as they learn the nuances of a new classroom with new expectations.  When kids experience these emotions they tend to react in their own ways.  Some get silly and have trouble settling into the new routine.  This is often interpreted as “disruptive”.  Some cry.  A lot.  Those kids are quickly identified as the “sensitive” kids who need to learn to separate.  Others shut down and become silent – afraid to make waves, these kids count the minutes until pick up.  And some seem to settle in fairly quickly…only to melt down at home.

The common complaint that comes in year after year isn’t about the behavior of the child, though. Yes, behavioral concerns often land tired parents on my couch, it’s true.  But the complaint that generates the most email…is benching kids at recess.  Benching kids has become a go-to intervention in many schools, public and private, and kids lose out on much-needed time to decompress because of it.

Classroom management is no easy task.  While the frustration on the part of the parent makes perfect sense, it’s also important to look at the overall picture.  What, exactly, is the teacher dealing with in the classroom?  What drove the teacher to that level of intervention?  And what alternatives exist?

When I hear from teachers, they often mention feeling alone in a sea of behavioral issues.  Many feel that they don’t get enough support when it comes to classroom management.  I worked in education for many, many years.  I know the importance of supporting teachers with classroom management.

Stop by Huffington Post Education for more on the importance of recess and how teachers can get around benching kids.

 

Play More Often for Happy Kids!

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I’ve seen some great articles on the importance of play in the past few months.  This is a good thing.  While people all over the country continue to argue for or against changes in public education, the truth is that our children are the ones caught in the middle.  Our children are experiencing high levels of stress and insufficient time to play.

Play is crucial for developing minds.  And before you start to think that this only applies to very young children, it actually applies to kids of all ages.  The benefits of child-centered unstructured play are well-documented, and we need to start giving kids more free time to tap into play.

I’m super proud of this article over on HuffPost Parents this week, and truly humbled by the positive response to it.  If we all work together, we can decrease stress levels for children and raise happy kids.

Please head over there and check out “Stressed Out in America:  5 Reasons to Let Your Kids Play”.

 

The Slow Lane

I’ve taken the slow lane every step of the way with my sweet baby boy.  I haven’t pushed, I haven’t set expectations, and I haven’t worried about what other people were thinking or doing.

 

Not even for one little second.

 

I never once second-guessed my choice to hold him out of preschool, to give him two years instead of three.  He wasn’t ready.  He didn’t need it.  I didn’t bother to explain myself to the people who seemed genuinely shocked by my decision.

 

It was my decision, after all.  I am his mommy, and I know him better than anyone.

 

I didn’t push endless classes or enroll him in tot sport leagues.  He enjoyed his gym class, he loved story time at the library, and the local music class always resulted in cheers and smiles.

 

But he would much rather walk up to the fire station to help the fire fighters wash the trucks on a Monday morning than attend a toddler class.  He preferred long walks around town, collecting leaves and rocks while spotting trucks and cars along the way.

 

He enjoyed bagels at Panera and trips to the carwash.  He enjoyed cool mornings at the beach and playing in the sandbox at the park.

 

He knew what he liked, and I let him enjoy those things.  Because being little is fun, but being little is also short-lived.

 

So I’ve taken the slow lane in an attempt to enjoy every little bit of little along the way.  And you know what?  It worked…

 

Please stop by moonfrye to continue reading “The Slow Lane”

Some Exciting News…

Hi friends and readers!

I just wanted to share some news with you.  As of today, I joined the incredible team over at Moonfrye.  There are many excellent writers over there, and I am excited to start writing there every Thursday.

““Look at me, I’m swinging high with my eyes closed”, she yelled as the swing set jerked back and forth with an alarming screech, threatening to come apart at any moment.  “You have to see this mommy, it’s my most amazing discovery!”  The mixture of elation and pure adrenaline coursing through her four year old body caused her to forget that I stood just two feet away, watching the whole event.

I clenched my fists and tightened my jaw just for a second as I watched her let go of the ropes.  Jumping from the moving swing is still new and exciting each time, no matter the outcome.  Please don’t get hurt…please don’t get hurt, I prayed to no one in particular.  She landed, as usual, in one piece and full of laughter…”

Stop by Moonfrye to continuing reading “Playing for Play”