Thursday, January 26, 2012

Kids as Advocates for Play

All month, I've been talking about the importance of play. And all month, my focus has been on what adults can do to protect and rescue kids' right to play. Well, yesterday my very own children reminded me not to underestimate the power of children.

My 11- and 8-yr-olds came home fired up. Outside recess had been cancelled -- AGAIN. (The kids said it was because the adults said the playground was too icy.) Now, I don't know how things were when you were a kid, but when I was a kid, even inside recess was active, at least most of the time. Sometimes we stayed in our classrooms and played board games, but most of the time, we were sent to the gym, where we could run around, play with balls and jump rope. Today? The kids get herded into the auditorium, not the gym, and it's all quiet play. They can walk around the auditorium, but that's about it.

So the kids started a petition. At school, at recess, they drafted a petition and began circling it among the students and teachers. At home, they refined it a bit. You should have seen those boys (two of mine, plus a friends from school!) debating word choice as they created their manifesto! This is what they ultimately wrote:

We have started a petition and we demand outside recess. We are sick of being inside all day long. All the grades that have recess demand for the right to be able to stay in or go out except for in extreme weather. For safety issues we request that you send home a permission slip and for those whose parents are not comfortable with this decision that way they can choose not to let their child/children have the choice.


Kids grades 3-6

I think they did a pretty good job of expressing their concerns and offering a solution. What do you think?


  1. I don't recall ever playing inside during elementary school unless it was raining (and the gym was certainly a much more enjoyable alternative than board games!). There is some sense in keeping kids inside if the temperature is below freezing, but in my opinion even a few minutes outside is better than none. Schools definitely may have the children's safety in mind but, as you mentioned in another post, inconvenience plays a large role, too. Who wants to get kids all bundled up for just a few minutes? Who wants to clean up the snowy mess when they return inside?

    I wish your kids luck with the petition!

  2. The petition did not go well. The boys were called to the office today, where the principal told them that these decisions are made with their safety in mind.

  3. We were allowed to play in the gymnasium during inclement whether. It's ridiculous to think children can concentrate on their school work without blowing off a little steam halfway through the day ! The school officials in this case are obviously practicing CYA tactics in an attempt to prevent liability

  4. Great to hear your boy stood up! Disappointing that the school wouldn't problem solve with them to find something that's safe AND healthy. Kids need active play. We've been doing a blog series on recess in inclement weather recently. Maybe you and your boys could go back to the staff with some creative ideas to improve recess during bad weather. -

  5. Thanks so much for the link, Beth! I sent it to the kids' principal, along with a note requesting my concerns and a request to see the district's policy regarding recess. (I've met with him in person previously to discuss some of my concerns, and co-incidentally, after that meeting, I sent him a link to Playworks website!)