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Weekly Challenge for #EnviroEd # 54 What Did You Do at Recess Today?

November 30, 2014

kids-playing

Last week, I found myself, as many parents do asking my kids at the supper table, “What did you do at school today?” And not surprisingly, other than a field trip report, the answer around the table was an almost depressingly consistent, “Nothing”.

Those that read this blog frequently will no doubt be aware of the fact I have six kids of my own. I have a 16-year-old lad and five girls ranging in age from 13 years old to 14 months old. And, in part because Dad is an outdoor educator and still a kid at heart in many ways I encourage them to explore, climb, imagine and discover almost each and every day.

Having said that though, they are individuals. While between the ages of 8 and 13 I may have been exploring the river and trails near my house – catching frogs, trying to build rafts out of grapevines and waterlogged limbs I fully understand that my 13-year-old girls are into different things and my 8-year-old girl looks up to them. Just as my 13 year olds wish to be 18, my 8-year-old desperately wishes she was 13 so she could act like she was 18 as well.

The concept of community is shrinking. At one point everyone met at the General Store or the local church to share gossip or share news good and bad. However today we shop at big box stores miles away and if we attend any faith-based event at all it likely is different from that of our neighbours. The last real community hubs we have are schools and green spaces.

I’ve done a few workshops and discussions on this recently and it left me thinking perhaps I should be focusing a little less on what my kids learned curriculum wise each day and focus instead on how they are growing into more creative, social and responsible persons.

So, this week I changed it up and as we sat around the table each supper I threw out the question, “What did you do at recess today?”

I learned about a few of the social complexities today’s generations face. I heard how a new student to the school who had no friends was welcomed into the close-knit fold of my 8 year old’s peers. My 5-year-old described how she and another lad “invented” a new game in the kinderpad which the teacher took into the classroom and made into a lesson on the value of sharing.

I listened more than spoke and found the conversation around the table sparked interest in siblings. One of my 13 year olds mentioned how a younger kid at the school was being teased about his winter coat. My 16-year-old lad who no longer has recess in high school spoke up and said he remembered this happening when he was younger too and admitted it was hard to react to at the time but spoke to the kid later to see how he was.

We had numerous conversations this week on how to react to situations wisely and with a caring and responsible attitude. It was not always an eye-opening moment and more than once reactions to scenarios or activities differed but the conversation happened and it was engaging!

I learned by the engaging conversations around the supper table a lot about my children this week. I wonder if more adults asked this very question maybe free play could be a Rosetta Stone of sorts in our attempts to decipher our children’s social growth and tell us about their days.

Challenge yourself to ask your own kids, or perhaps your students when they come in, “What did you do at recess?” and see where the conversation takes you.

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