Why Kids Need More Playtime

Why Kids Need More Playtime

Is it time for recess?
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"We just wrote for an hour, I don't want to do this worksheet!"

"My legs hurt from sitting so much!"

"I can't focus!"

These are common complaints I hear from the second grade students I work with every day. These students work hard all day and are pushed from one activity to the next in order to get everything done on time. I find myself giving frequent reminders to "focus on your work" or to "try to get this done because we only have five more minutes until we transition to the next activity." If I were in their shoes, I too would have some of the complaints above. Children need more time to play without instruction, not only so they will be refreshed and ready to learn, but also so they can preserve their own mental, emotional and physical well-being.

Many schools in the United States give only 15 minutes of recess for the entire school day. Schools in Finland give their students a 15 minute break for every 45 minutes of work they do. Many teachers and parents in the United States may look at Finland's approach as too much play and not enough time for work to get done but, as a future teacher who sees kids struggle to maintain focus on a daily basis, I believe that this is an approach that U.S. schools should look into.

I am lucky to work with a teacher that tries to incorporate movement and breaks into her routine for the students. This teacher gives her students time to be creative -- every Monday morning the kids play with blocks and every Friday these students get to let out their energy with "Friday Fun," giving students the freedom to do a puzzle, talk with classmates, draw or whatever they are not able to do during the normal instruction time. Another great break the kids get during the day is a "Body Break," which allows students to play Simon Says, try some yoga poses or watch a GoNoodle video. GoNoodle videos get kids moving when they are restless from working all day and can help refocus their energy when they get a little too crazy. Kids love GoNoodle, and finish feeling refreshed and ready to learn!

Although all of these in-class breaks are wonderful, there still needs to be a push for more outdoor, unstructured playtime for kids. When you push kids to work and work and work without a break they are going to become distracted, restless, frustrated and eventually just burn out. Many adults may think that the work children have to do isn't very hard so they don't need as many breaks or that other countries are above the U.S. in academics so there is no time for more playtime. We need to take a step back and remember that these are just kids. Even as an adult in the classroom, sometimes I forget that the work I am encouraging them to complete that may seem easy to me is actually challenging for them. Kids have so much potential and room to grow. As adults in their lives, we should be fostering their growth with playtime not setting them back with stress. With more playtime we will discover happy, healthy, determined students.

Cover Image Credit: iStockphoto

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To The Teacher Who Was So Much More

Thank you for everything
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I think it's fair to say that most people remember at least one teacher who had a lasting impact on them. I have been incredibly lucky to have several teachers who I will never forget, but one individual takes the cake. So here's to you: thank you for all you have done.

Thank you for teaching me lessons not just in the textbook.

Although you taught a great lecture, class was never just limited to the contents of the course. Debates and somewhat heated conversations would arise between classmates over politics and course material, and you always encouraged open discussion. You embraced the idea of always having an opinion, and always making it be heard, because why waste your voice? You taught me to fight for things I believed in, and to hold my ground in an argument. You taught me to always think of others before doing and speaking. You showed me the power of kindness. Thank you for all the important lessons that may not have been included in the curriculum.

Thank you for believing in me.

Especially in my senior year, you believed in me when other teachers didn't. You showed me just what I could accomplish with a positive and strong attitude. Your unwavering support kept me going, especially when I melted into a puddle of tears weekly in your office. You listened to my stupid complaints, understood my overwhelming stress-induced breakdowns, and told me it was going to be okay. Thank you for always being there for me.

Thank you for inspiring me.

You are the epitome of a role model. Not only are you intelligent and respected, but you have a heart of gold and emit beautiful light where ever you go. You showed me that service to others should not be looked at as a chore, but something to enjoy and find yourself in. And I have found myself in giving back to people, thanks to your spark. Thank you for showing me, and so many students, just how incredible one person can be.

Thank you for changing my life.

Without you, I truly would not be where I am today. As cliche as it sounds, you had such a remarkable impact on me and my outlook on life. Just about a year has passed since my graduation, and I'm grateful to still keep in touch. I hope you understand the impact you have made on me, and on so many other students. You are amazing, and I thank you for all you have done.

Cover Image Credit: Amy Aroune

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I've Come To Realize My Vacation Is College Not Home And I Miss These 14 Things When I'm Not There

New Mexico sucks and I miss my friends.

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Being home for the summer is all fun and games until you realize that it's not. Once you start growing up, the summer becomes a boring wasteland where you have to work all the time and never get to do what you actually want to do.

College is starting to call my name and I cannot wait to get back for my final fall semester as a senior this year. But here are a few things that I start to miss during this summer heat.

1. My friends

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I go to college 2,000 miles away, so going home for the summer means I don't get to see my friends from school for a whole 3 months.

2. Bread

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North Carolina loves. their. bread. And all things fried. I complain about it while I'm at school, but once I'm back home, all I want is some Bojangles.

3. My independence

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Yes, I missed having home-cooked meals and not having to clean up for myself, but I was just getting used to living on my own and attempting to boil water.


4. My sanity

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Having to put up with people from high school, telling your mom where you're going all the time, working, and trying to stay sane seems almost impossible.

5. Motivation to do anything

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It seems like I only have motivation during the school year, and even then it's questionable.

6. Learning

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I actually kind of like learning about things. Crazy- I know.

But school helps me and my mind busy, even when I complain about all the homework.

My brain cells seems to just die off in the summer heat, so

7. Being as weird as I want without judgement

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College is a magical place. I can go to class in my snuggie and eat as much pizza as I want and no one will bat an eye.

8. Knowing exactly what I'm going to be doing everyday

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I like schedules and knowing what to expect.

9. Looking hideous and not giving a damn

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Like I said, college is a magical place where I don't have to wear make-up or jeans or even brush my hair. Ponytails and leggings for dayzzzz.

10. Being surrounded by food and eating it all

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It's impossible to stop eating at college. I'm constantly surrounded by food and I just can't say no.

11. Water

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Water. Literally any form of water. I live out in the middle of New Mexico where it does not rain, there is no humidity, and there is no beach. Take me back to college now!

12. Diversity

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Like I said, New Mexico. Not really know for much, including it's diversity.

13. Sleep

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I sleep more at school than I do at home. With working and staying up super late to binge more episodes of "Kimmy Schmidt", I never get to rest my tired, tired eyes. Bless late classes and personal scheduling.

14. Being busy

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I like being busy and having a purpose in life (at least for a little bit).

No hate against New Mexico or summer but I'm so excited to get back to college where I can actually sleep and have fun. I never thought school would be the place for that, but it's becoming more and more clear that my vacation IS college. So I'm going to enjoy it while I can!

Let me know of any other amazing things you college peeps are missing right about now. We have to stick together during hard times.

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