Ever watch kids play? Just sitting back and watch how they work through things without being told what to do or how to do it. They come up with their own ways of solving problems, adjusting where necessary and usually making it fair for each other.
I think about recess at school when I was a kid. Oh my gosh, we had sooooooo much fun! The swings were tall, allowing us to go high, we'd race to see who could go higher than the other. And the teeter totters were so much fun. Oh, and I remember the "merry go round" and the "ocean wave". The merry go round was a spinning thing that you'd ride standing on top of a platform that went around and around. You rode until you were dizzy. The ocean wave was my favorite. You had to be a bigger kid to ride this, mostly because it was tall. It was a circle frame that sat on the top of a pole, when you grabbed one side the other side went up in the air, it also went around in a circle. You always had to balance sides with riders. When a new person would jump on as it was going around, the other side would be flung into the air your feet would go off the ground. The blisters we got from riding this ocean wave! Oh, what a thrill this play equipment was!!!! Of course there were monkey bars and great long slides too. Were did they all go?
I remember all the girls carried their jump ropes to school. We jumped rope for entire recesses, saying little rhymes and taking turns turning the end and turns jumping. There would be a long line of girls jumping in on one side of the rope, singing a rhyme and then going out the other side, then the next girl would come in.
It was all shared and fair. We played that way because we learned if we didn't people wouldn't play with us. Plus there were always boys playing baseball, they hardly ever let the girls play...... dumb boys! We also had races and hula hoops. I remember in first and second grade playing in a sandbox with trucks and stuff.
Today they have "safe" playground structures. When ask once if I'd donate to the building of one of these playground structures with mulched tire bits on the ground for safer falls. I said I could not support such a venture. When ask why, I ask them why build this when the recesses are all being eliminated? Who will play on it?
Today and even when my children where in elementary school, they started taking recess away. Why? I questioned this to the principal. Oh, they need more classroom time to get everything done was the answer I got. Don't they understand the playground is as much a learning experience as sitting in a classroom? It is teaching social skills they can't learn sitting behind a desk and being dictated to. They don't learn to entertain themselves when everything has to be planned and organized. Let the kids figure out what they want to do and with who they want to do it with. Let the kids be allowed to run and jump and swing and play ball. Let them yell and laugh and have fun.
We are raising a generation of little people that don't know how to entertain themselves. They don't know how to play. It makes me really sad for those kids.