You remember sitting in fourth period math in the seventh grade? The minute hand crawled across the face of the clock, your feet started to tap the desk in front of you and all you needed was to punt a football into the stratosphere. Once you were allowed to fill your lungs with the air of the sweet outdoors, the opportunity for 25 minutes of fun took over. Remember how wonderful recess was?
Well, apparently administrators at the Weber Middle School in Port Washington, N.Y. completely forgot how necessary these fleeting minutes of freedom felt and banned several activities children love. Want to kick a soccer ball or throw a football? Sorry, those have been taken away. Want to throw yourself into a cartwheel? Well, you can, as long as a coach supervises your every move. At least the kids will no longer get hurt at recess.
That’s the right mentality. Tag, soccer and baseball lead to too many scrapes and bruises, so let’s outlaw them altogether. That’s the ticket.
How can children grow up without knowing how far they can push their bodies? From a developmental point of view, children need to be able to improve their motor skills and coordination. They need to know the limits of how fast they can run, how high they can jump, and just how much it hurts when they get careless.
From a social point of view, it is necessary for children to learn how to win, lose and compete. Taking away these sports robs kids of the ability to emulate professional sports players and improve their self-esteem. Many of these banned games teach children how to be on a team and cooperate with people. Aren’t those skills worth more than wrapping a child in metaphorical cotton to prevent a sprained wrist? There are so many vital mental skills associated with sports and these games. Competition is healthy, and the students shouldn’t miss out on the life lessons found on the playground.
Some injuries can get serious, and it is understandable that administrators want students to be protected, but the school is overstepping its role as a protector by avoiding every single situation that could hurt a child. This safety net only harms the students by robbing them of the momentary independence found in team sports and of the learning experiences associated with potentially failing.
This excessive policing of students completely voids the basic reasons for recess. Let them actually get out of the classroom — which many consider a prison — and rid themselves of pent-up energy. If we begin to shelter our children from pretty basic and common injuries, how else will they grow up to be functional adults that know how to put aside their pride? To sound like a father in a 1950s nuclear family, recess and sports build character. Give it back to these kids.