Reimagining Recess

This week’s “Notes from the Middle” is co-written by Jeff Snyder, Assistant Head of Middle School.

Don’t be alarmed if you hear crashing sounds echoing through the TVS Middle School Plaza. It is not the sound of construction that we grew accustomed to last year. Instead, it is the crumbling of the giant Jenga tumbling towers that students now enjoy as a part of our growing repertoire of recess activities.

Recess and brain breaks are vital to creating a healthy learning environment. Over the last several months, we have expanded – and will continue to expand – recreational opportunities for students.

Our vision is guided by research from organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, which asserts that “recess represents an essential, planned respite from rigorous cognitive tasks,” and its benefits extend far beyond children’s cognitive development to their emotional, physical, and social well-being. More importantly, these benefits apply “equally to adolescents and to younger children.”

In earlier years, our recess was shaped almost exclusively by traditional ball sports. Students still have space to throw a football or kick a soccer ball. But the success of large-group games such as Gaga Ball and Nine Square in the Air has inspired us to seek out other opportunities that will spark the interest of students and encourage more of them to engage in physical recess activities.

Thanks to the generous support of our TVS Parents’ Club, we are starting the second semester with a new lineup of equipment, including:

  • Additional Nine Square in the Air and Spike Ball sets
  • Giant Jenga tumbling towers
  • Ladder Ball
  • Mölkky (a Finnish lawn game)
  • Rollors (a game that combines elements of bocce and horseshoes)
  • A giant checkers set
  • Kan Jam (a Frisbee and bucket partner game)
  • Kubb (a physical strategy game)

These activities allow for physical activity, problem solving, competition, and collaboration. Students can stretch their muscles and their minds while enjoying sunshine, fresh air, and friendship.

Because many of these new additions are unfamiliar to our students, teachers have been helping them learn the basic rules of play, and next week’s middle school assembly will present “how to play” segments on Mölkky, Rollors, Kan Jam, and Kubb. We will also discuss the importance of stewardship and care of this new equipment.

When renowned engineer Dr. Luis Prieto visited TVS a couple of years ago, he offered one piece of advice for helping middle school kids reach their intellectual potential: “Let them play.” That’s exactly what we are doing.

Take a look!

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