Remember the jungle gym, swings, the slide, or maybe you remember playing 4-square or soccer on the playground. We had a huge fenced off area at my school (Riverside Elementary!) that had a labyrinth of large (truck and tractor, of course) tires bolted together for us to play on. It was the simplest thing ever – and was incredibly entertaining! We loved that thing! You could walk on top of it, crawl through it, find little nooks in it to sit and talk with your friends, try to jump over tires… The playground itself was unfortunately cement – and not very even cement at that – but we had a great time! Jump ropes and basketballs were always available at recess as well. And then, when Elementary school ended…so did recess. We moved to the Junior High (grades 7,8,9) and had more classes, more homework and more extra curricular activities. [So, you are thinking – doesn’t extracurricular mean physical activity? For some, yes, but its activity with specific goals and performance expectations. And, for the rest of us, band and orchestra were not exactly what I’d call physical activity.]
Recently a friend of mine posted [ on facebook ] her vote for mandatory recess. Why is it that once we graduate from elementary school recess is no longer a mandatory part of our day? By the time we reach adulthood we have forgotten how to take time out of every day to put down our work and go outside (yes, even in the winter). I have always been amazed that in the workplace we actually allow time for employees to take smoke breaks. How does this make any sense? Basically this is encouraging the leeching of the health of employees, which non only depletes the employees paycheque (those sticks are costly!), but will also mean provincial health care dollars spent on this persons health concerns that will almost inevitably develop over time. And do we need to talk about the smell? Yes its true, its stinky and no matter how many times one washes their clothes, their clothes smell of smoke.
I think its time for adults around the world to take things into their own hands and take recess breaks in their day! Bring a hacky sack to work and head outside (away from the smokers) for 20 minutes to play some good old hacky sack (or frisbee, shoot some hoops, jump rope, soccer, street hockey, go for a walk…), whatever it is – do something fun! Something that takes your focus away from your workday, deadlines, phone calls, and makes you laugh! That was the beauty of recess – it gave us plain old, simple, joy. And couldn’t we all use just a little more joy in each and every day?
So this week, cast your vote for mandatory recess and make it part of YOUR day.