Thinking and Playing

It’s that time of year again. The school holds a contest to see which class can add up the most walking or running laps during recess. The prize? An extra recess. I always thought this was a good idea. But lately I’m wondering why. We hear so much about our kids needing exercise, but when I think about it – I don’t believe I ever see kids sitting around at recess. At least not at our elementary school.

Before questioning myself why I thought programs/incentives like this were a good idea, I would push my son to do at least one lap. Sam is a deep thinker. He knows why he thinks or believes what he does because he’s already thought out of the box about it.

So when I push him to run at least one full lap each recess, he looks at me like this:


“So, they want us to spend all of our recesses running around a track when we could be using our imaginations and coming up with awesome games? And the prize is an extra recess? That’s just reimbursing us one recess. We don’t get all the others back.” He shrugged. “If they really wanted us to use our recesses like that they should’ve thought of a better prize.”

I admit, I hadn’t looked at it that way. And this time around, I’m wondering if it is a good idea. There is so much value in playing and using your imagination. If I were doing academic work all day and got a few breaks, I doubt I’d want to spend it walking around a track with adults carefully watching to make sure I’ve completed the full loop to get a tally. I think I’d rather spend it playing and being silly before having to sit back down again and do what everybody else is doing.

Does your child’s school do these programs? Does your child benefit from/enjoy it?

1 thought on “Thinking and Playing”

  1. I love the way he thinks! Losing all those recesses to get reimbursed just one recess… not a good value for his investment, when he could be having a good time (thinking outside the box) instead!

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