With schools around Minnesota and Wisconsin closed, kids are spending their school days at home. Many schools are preparing for or already starting virtual learning programs for students, with online classes, assignments, and meetings with teachers. Others are leaving the decision of how kids spend their days up to families, especially due to concerns that not all children will be able to access online learning. As we move forward in these school days spent at home, there’s another part of school parents can adapt: recess!
Recess has been shown to benefit kids in all sorts of ways: physically, emotionally, socially, and cognitively. Kids who have time to play and move focus better on academics, learn to get along with others, and practice motor skills. Just because kids aren’t in school right now doesn’t mean they can’t benefit from breaks—whether from schoolwork, video games, art projects, jigsaw puzzles, or worries they might have about current events. They still need time to move and play.
That’s why we are starting a “Social Distance Recess” series here on In the Loop! Each week on Wednesday, we’ll offer suggestions on how to get outdoors, play, and add some more movement to your day.
To get you started, here are some ideas to help kids get the benefits of recess while maintaining social distancing.
Ask Your Kids!
What games do they like to play at recess? Can any of them be adapted for social distancing? You can play a version of four square against a wall, play soccer in the backyard with siblings, or even make up a virtual version of hand-clapping games or rhymes with friends over video chat. Be creative and encourage your kids to be creative and active, too!
If you have limited access to outdoor space or playmates, ask your kids if their school does anything special for indoor recess during bad weather. Many elementary schoolers love Go Noodle for this—a site with videos, songs, and dances for kids. They even have an “Indoor Recess” series. Your Girl Scout might also recognize some of the songs as favorite camp songs!
Have a Dance Party
Are you feeling stressed in these uncertain times? Joining your kids in dancing could be good for you and good for them. Choose a favorite song, play it loud, and be as silly as you can be! Or, suggest that your Girl Scouts (alone or in a virtual troop hangout) make up a choreographed dance to perform for you later. This could occupy them for hours, and you might be impressed by the results.
Get Out in the Neighborhood
Is your neighborhood looking a little messy? Grab a trash bag and go on a clean-up walk. Been meaning to try out rollerblading, biking, scootering, or skateboarding? Now’s a great time! It’s safe and healthy to get out in your neighborhood right now, as long as you keep a safe distance (You’ve heard it before, but I’ll say it again: a minimum of six feet!) from others and avoid touching commonly shared surfaces like playground equipment.
Don’t Forget Older Kids
Middle and high schoolers need breaks, outside time, and activity, too. Older kids often use recess or free time (like lunch periods) to socialize with friends, so make sure they’re still getting some of that time by video-chatting, talking on the phone, or other ways to hang out with school friends. Encourage your teenager to play outside with younger siblings, go on a walk while listening to their favorite songs, practice sports however they can while being safe, or just be silly and playful.
In case you missed it, our recent post Get Outside and Feel Better During COVID-19 also has some great outdoor ideas for Girl Scouts and their families. Stay tuned for more detailed recess ideas in upcoming posts.
Curious about the research behind the benefits of recess? Check out these articles:
Robin Webb – Robin is the Program Coordinator—GSLE at Girl Scouts River Valleys, which means she mostly coordinates Journey events. She graduated from Macalester College with a degree in Biology and minors in Education and Environmental Studies. She grew up going to Girl Scout camp in Wisconsin and has also worked as a Trip Specialist at Camp Northwoods. She loves being outside, learning about science, playing roller derby, baking, and spending time with family and friends.