Indoor Recess

Bad weather? No problem.

As a parent, you know well the benefits of getting your kids outside and active. They burn off energy, work up an appetite, behave better the rest of the day, and sleep better at night. (And who among us doesn’t want a well-behaved and rested kid?) The opposite is also true—which is why a weather forecast of rain, snow or bitter cold can conjure up feelings of dread in even the most optimistic and imaginative of us.

If there’s anyone who can relate, it’s teachers—times 20 when Mother Nature decides to put the kibosh on recess. But bringing recess indoors doesn’t mean kids can’t still be active. With a little creativity and planning, schools can infuse activity into their indoor recess program, regardless of space or equipment constraints.

Bringing Recess Indoors

Don’t wait until the weather goes south to plan for indoor recess. Talk with school administrators, teachers, recess providers and other parents at the beginning of the school year to hatch a plan.

Here are some tips and strategies for working with school leaders to get students moving during indoor recess:

  • Review the school schedule to assess available space. Is the gym available for any part of recess? What about the cafeteria or auditorium? Is there an empty classroom? A spacious hallway where students could run relays or jump rope?
  • If the school holds indoor recess in the classroom, create recess bags with goodies like jump ropes, softballs, fitness DVDs, movement dice and yoga cards so teachers have easy access to equipment. Be sure to enlist other parent volunteers to help youout.
  • Organize a year-round walking club. Walking is an activity that’s easy and accessible to most students, staff and parents. Host an extra walking club day during indoor recess for students to track more steps.
  • Recruit a local fitness instructor, college student or parent with a fitness background to host fitness classes during recess.
  • Get student input. What would they like to do during indoor recess?
  • Establish indoor recess structures and routines to help make sure all students are safe, active, and not playing and laughing too loudly while the class next door has to work on long division.

Keeping our students’ brains and bodies busy is key to success. Even on rainy days, we want to find ways to keep their feet moving so they stay healthy and focused.

-Shira Woolf-Cohen, Principal of New Foundations Charter School, Philadelphia

Instant Recess

Instant recess is a quick version of recess (no monkey bars required) that can happen anytime, any place at school. Even if students do get outdoors for recess, they can benefit from extra physical activity breaks in the classroom throughout the school day.

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