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How to Win

Structured Play

Now there is a coach for recess.

There’s no more spontaneous running around, or skipping, or games of tag, or just looking at the sky.

According to the New York Times, a growing number of schools are putting more structure into recess to “curb bullying and behavior problems, foster social skills and address concerns over obesity.”

Though those are commendable goals, the program also takes away unstructured time, those moments when all of us need to relax and daydream.

There’s no more of that on certain playgrounds. Kids aren’t allowed to straggle. They must participate. And that could mean problems.

Free time is more than just a good idea. It’s a principle. Recovery is necessary. Bodies need time to recover, and so do minds. Without this time, fatigue sets in. Injuries can occur, and people learn more slowly and retain less of what they learn.

It reminds me of the overscheduling that has become a fact of life in the United States. Parents and children race from one event to another, without a chance to absorb what has just happened. Like structured recess time, these crowded schedules come from the best of intentions. Parents don’t want their children idle for fear that drugs or other unhealthy activities might infiltrate.

But whether it’s overscheduling or recess coaches, a lack of free time carries a down side. When can kids actually be kids?


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