Washington Post: How Schools Ruined Recess and Four Things Needed to Fix It

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How schools ruined recess — and four things needed to fix it

“A child plays in a puddle in the spring. (sscreative/iStock)”


By Valerie Strauss February 4

“A post I published last summer by pediatric occupational therapist Angela Hanscom, titled “Why so many kids can’t sit still in school today,” continues to be popular today, as are two other related posts of hers, “The right — and surprisingly wrong — ways to get kids to sit still in class” and “A therapist goes to middle school and tries to sit still. She can’t. Neither can the kids.” Here is the fourth in her occasional series on movement in classrooms. Hanscom is the founder of TimberNook, a nature-based development program designed to foster creativity and independent play outdoors in New England.

By Angela Hanscom

“You are wasting your breath,” a colleague once told me after overhearing my conversation with a parent regarding the importance of free play on that child’s health. “I’ve been telling parents this for years and no one ever understands me. I’ve learned to keep quiet. You’ll see. People just don’t get it.” Her faith in people was lost. I, on the other hand, would not give up that easily.

Fast forward five years, and I’m halfway across the world, in the beautiful country of New Zealand. Rolling green hills surround us at every turn. Here in the small patch of woods, the children are at a TimberNook camp enjoying their freshly cooked popcorn in their bare feet, while sheep wander through the trees nearby. A child suddenly spies the sheep and puts away her snack. “Can I have some rope and scissors please?” The child politely asks. With no questions asked, the young girl is given ample rope and a pair of scissors….”

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