Home About This Week On Dr. Phil DrPhil.com
May 26th, 2010 by Dr. Phil

Playtime is Over?

recess1The other day, when I happened to read that more and more schools around the country are hiring “recess coaches” to work with students during recess, I took a deep sigh and thought, “Seriously? We’re now telling kids what to do at recess — the one period in the school day when they are supposed to have unstructured free time?”

Oh, but hold on, retort a growing number of educators. Childhood, they point out, is a lot different today than it used to be. The vast majority of American children ages 6 to 11 now spend more than 28 hours a week using computers, cell phones, televisions and other electronic devices. A lot of these kids have no idea know what to do when you tell them to “go out and play.” 

And so, the educators claim, it’s actually very smart to hire recess coaches who force all the kids to play organized games. Some elementary schools have gone so far as to replace recess with a “fitness” course. A California-based nonprofit organization called Playworks has now placed recess coaches in 170 schools in nine cities, including Boston, Washington, Los Angeles and the Silicon Valley.

OK, I know I’m an old fogey. In my childhood, when we played kick ball at recess, we used an old Buick in front of Old Lady Jerkin’s house as our home plate. There were no gigs of memory, no schedule and no field. There was no coach out there telling us exactly how to play the games. We had to learn to choose teams, make the rules, follow them and settle disputes along the way. We had to learn how to entertain ourselves. Isn’t that precisely what we want our own kids to learn to do, too?

Playworks believes their coaches stop bullying and other behavioral problems on the playgrounds, allowing more kids to have more fun. Well, I’m all for supervision that gets rid of the bullying. And if the coaches are making sure the kids just don’t stand around and use their cell phones to text friends or play video games, I’m all for that too. I appreciate that their intentions are positive, it’s the overall concept that I’m struggling with.

Do we want to turn recess into another gym class? Isn’t it a no-brainer to give kids a break during the school day, giving them time to let their imaginations roam, letting them do what they choose to do?

What do you think? Do you think regimented recess is the right way to go? Or do kids have the right to goof off for one period out on the playground? How important is it to push kids to learn that a lot of good old-fashioned fun can be had without iPods—enough to force them to play other kinds of games, whether they want to or not?

Tags: , ,

57 Responses to “Playtime is Over?”

  1. Michele says:

    Recently thirty of our grandchildren came with their parents for a three day celebration of our 40th anniversary. They range in ages from 1 to 18. On Sunday after church we declared a “no-technology” day–no cell phones, no TV, no Wii, etc. Fortunately it was a beautiful day and those kids spent the entire afternoon and evening playing the old standbys–Tag, red Rover, Duck Duck Goose. There was no adult input, the kids just started playing on their own. They loved every minute of it and it will be a great memory. Given the opportunity to play, I think kids can figure it out without a coach!

  2. Barbara Henry says:

    I do think that kids dont know how to play,as a grandmother of a 8 year old,they seem to just argue about whos friends and who.

  3. jennifer says:

    Ok this is wrong. First of all the teachers should be taking away cell phones, ipods & whatever else during school time to begin with. Recess for kids should be just that. A time for kids to let off some steam & have fun. Hiring “couches’ at recess time is just stupid. When I was growing up the teachers stood outside to monitor what was going on & as long as they weren’t hurting themselves or others leave the kids to be kids. JEEZ! Right now where I live there laying at least 150 teachers & or Para’s off due to the budget. No more preschool or special ed help. But yet we can hire “coaches” Are you kidding me? What is wrong with this system? And I’m paying taxes for this? Something needs to change. Bring back what the kids actually need. Not “Coaches” for organized play.


  4. Denise says:

    Recess coaches? I say absolutely not! As a longtime educator, I know that recess is a time for children to use their imaginations or organize a variety of activities. When allowed to have “free” time they learn the give and take of peer relationships. It’s true children today spend too much time using technology, most of the time alone. Structuring every aspect of a child’s day, in my opiinion, prevents them from developing coping skills necessary to be successful in the real world.

  5. Kris says:

    I did a double take over the first sentence of this one. I don’t care HOW different things are now than when I was a kid– all young people (all people period, for that matter!) need unstructured time to run wild. It’s bad enough that parents are scheduling their kids to distraction and stuffing summer break with classes…now recess is being taken away too???

    I also worry about the solitary kids, the ones who really are happier off on their own. Will they be forced to play with others during recess rather than taking a badly-needed break? Voice of experience on this one– forcing an extremely introverted child to interact with others constantly will ratchet the stress levels through the roof. Stressed kids do not learn as well as relaxed ones.

    Recess is a time for learning to socialize, and frankly adults can get in the way. Yes, it is wonderful that there’s somebody making sure that bullying is minimized…but that same (over)supervision can inhibit the learning of strong problem-solving skills. How is a child supposed to learn to be independent if an adult is swooping in at every hiccup? How does s/he learn to resolve conflicts in a healthy manner if an adult is always right on hand to “fix” things? And how do we teach kids to be flexible and bounce back from mistakes if we never allow them to make any?

    That last question is, perhaps, the most worrisome from my perspective. We seem to be raising a generation of children afraid to take risks, too timid, too afraid of doing the wrong thing. How can a “recess coach” POSSIBLY help that?? It’s just another adult stepping in with something to do, giving an answer to the question of “what do we do?” rather than allowing kids to figure it out on their own. How will a child ever learn to be an effective problem-solver as an adult if he is never allowed to make (and rectify) mistakes as a child?

    Further, who is paying for these extra “coaches”? Most of the school districts in my area are nearly broke; how are they going to fit another teacher into the budget?

    If you ask me, the whole idea is a bad one. From the money perspective, the social, even the educational, this is not going to benefit the kids long-term.

  6. Diane Bergey says:

    I can’t believe that they will send money on recess coaches, but can not find the money to keep music, art and sports programs open or affordable for the students. I can see them having someone watching for bullying, but follow-up on the bullying and not turn a blind eye to it.

  7. Linda Cameron says:

    Really?? This isn’t the military! And even they get free time. How will our children ever grow to be independent & self motivated when someone is always telling them when & how to do things!! But maybe that’s what our goverment wants. Sick! Leave our kids alone!

  8. Susie from Australia says:

    I felt my 2 children (aged 5 & 6) were relying too heavily on technology based “toys” so when we decided to home school them in Vanuatu, Phuket and Bali as we travelled, we took 1 toy each. They have a DS to play on the airoplane. Now, they meet local children and learn to play their games, we do a lot of volunteer work in these countries, we go to the beach, we play in the playground, we walk in the parks…….we talk, alot. The boys have learnt to amuse themselves by climbing trees and chasing crabs, I love to watch them.

  9. Maya says:

    I just have to shake my head at this. I’m 30, and way back in the 3rd grade they made us walk around the playground a certain number of times each day BEFORE we got to play. Half the time was gone when most 3rd graders just want to play. Given the chance, I think most kids do play. I took my 2 year old son to play baseball with his big (7 years old) cousin, and my 13 and 15 year old nieces joined in without prompt.

    I think putting a coach in at recess just turns it into gym class and I hated gym class…it’s just other way to wipe out our kids free thought and turn mankind into the Borg.

  10. Mandolin says:

    I think that is silly as well. I work with children at a day camp. So yes we have some structured activities such as group games in the gym, an art project once or twice a week, and anytime we go on an off site trip there are specified activities. If we are just on site, and take the kids outside, they can figure it out. There are swings, a jungle gym, basket ball hoops, hop-scotch, chalk, four square, a sandbox, and a soccer field. Our camp is located at one of the elementary schools in our town, so even during the school year there is plenty for children to do. If kids say “I’m bored.” or “I don’t know what to do.” The adults at the school should suggest things (there normally are teachers outside for recess.), not hire people to order kids around. To me that is really silly and a waste of resources. I’m sure the money spent on a recess coach COULD have been spent on new books for the school. Or maybe some balls, chalk, or jump ropes for the children to make use of during their free time?

  11. Amy Stuber says:

    At first I thought this was horrible. But on the other hand I do see what they are saying. At our school most of the kids get 2 recesses so maybe they could use 1st recess to teach the games/activities and the 2nd recess for free play. Although as I am writing this I am wondering what about children who are not athletic who just are not good at any sports. How will they feel if they are last ones picked for a team EVERYDAY. I think that could be damaging to their self esteem. Some of the kids I see at recess just like to swing or slide or somethin like that. Also the playground at our school is covered with kids playing all sorts of games and there is no coach at our school. So I guess in short I do not think this is a good idea kids are built with imaginations with or without technology!!

  12. Carla O. says:

    Children absolutely need to use this time to create their own play, not be told what to do by others. A child I know of got into trouble because he wasn’t paying attention to a story being read at lunchtime in the cafeteria. REALLY?!?!?! These are children who need time to pretend, think outside the box, and create, all of which is squelched so early because of all the requirements in school. The ones with creative minds will be the ones who may come up with the cures for cancer, autism, etc. Let kids be kids!

  13. Ramona says:

    I think it is a good idea to have someone out there organizing some kind of play because whenever I drive by a school at their recess time I don’t see many kids playing any sports or much of anything really. They are just bassically sitting on the ground or standing around. Especially in the high schools or middle schools. Maybe if the school handed out sports equiptment for recess times things might change for themselves? My kid’s elementary school has one person on duty during their recess times. This person doesn’t interact with the kids at all. They only observe themand watch out for trouble.

  14. Skye says:

    The reason why most kids in high school and middle school dont do anything during recess is most schools dont have balls or equipment for us to use and we definitely dont have a jungle gym. I think it would haven been fun to play basketball or tennis or something fun during lunch but no sadly.

  15. Jennifer says:

    Dr Phil….I would ask you to consider the benefit of these situations for autisic children who don’t know how to play or socialise. These children are lost at recess and often behavioural problems exist. So often ideas such as recess coaches are laughed at and condemened by the “main stream” but there are children, like an autistic child who need this.

    I don’t say it is for everyone but certainly there are some children who really do need this.

  16. FosterBoys says:

    If you have a child in public elementary school and you haven’t volunteered at least once, you have no idea what’s going on. It’s not pretty. I go in at least once a week to help lighten the teacher’s burden. She knows that when I’m there, she can focus on teaching.

    Let’s call a spade a spade. A recess coach is adult supervision. As it is now, recess is just as much a break for teachers as it is for the kids. Most kids use this time as it is intended — for fun. But not all of them.

  17. Patti says:

    At my childrens elementary school recess keeps getting shorter and shorter! It is monitored by the lunch room/ recess aides. They supervise the free unstructered though very short playtime. I have no objection to supervision and structure from some of the stories I hear it may be necessary for some children. My son enjoys sports and competition he plays kickball at recess and loves it! My daughter enjoys pretend play with her friends and the swings as I always did. Bottom line as long as they have recess and are safe I am happy.

  18. Karen Potter says:

    Recess coaches will also cut down on the playground bullying, and larceny. For ex:
    I went to pick up my son from school for a Dr. appointment. It was recess and I
    found him in an hidden area being beat up because he did not have money to give
    to his attackers. Apparently mafia mentality starts young. Kids are not confined to
    name calling, and putting each other down. They are NOT so innocent anymore. They learn how grown ups behave from Hollywood products. Parents are targets
    too, for the kids and their ideas of getting what they want from adults. Fortunately I was able to get those hooliguns prosecuted and their parents got a
    wake up call as well as the school. Better a Recess Coach than a Prison Guard!!!

  19. Pat Bailey says:

    It’s interesting that you have brought up this subject. I recently received a flyer in my mailbox advertising various summer camps in the area. One of these summer camps is actually focusing on teaching children how to play outside! I found it distressing that kids have to be trained in playing kickball, tag, probably even “Mother May I” — I think that if it is true that children don’t have a clue as to how to have fun outside (i.e., they just stand there looking at each other) then perhaps some teaching is in order. How very sad it is, though…. :o (

  20. LOLz I just got this image of a sign: NO TEXTING ON PLAYGROUND. Teachers took turns monitoring playground in 60’s. I still remember how instead of a bell teachers twirled their tongues to make a sound time to come in.

    The box of 4-square balls and jump ropes right at exit door emptied by excited children each play period. We had see saws and tether ball and some schools ocean wave that IS LOTS of fun. Loved “Mother May I” and “Red Rover”. A lot of the games the teachers did teach us. I’ll edit a jump rope ditty…

    Cinderella dressed in yellow
    Went on playground to text her fella…

    One of my fave times was when Presidential Physical Fitness coaches came to school to coach and test us in sixth grade. Likely these days where epidemic of bullying to point of sexual assaults on school buses in DFW area not only need coach on playground and an adult bus and hall monitor.

    I LOVED PhysEd and use to want to be a PhysEd teacher for that very reason because I felt good exercising & loved how fairness enforced to teach ALL good manners. Like all things it can be carried too far into rigidity and sounds like may be in instances you mentioned. I suppose a sign of the times that isn’t as warm and fuzzy with “No Profanity” signs now extinct.

    I think Freud said w/technology persons would get out of sync with natural rhythms of life. Being the fastest texter in the West may have replaced seeing who can race to the tether balls first.

  21. Pat says:

    I am a school board member. The reason that there are recess coaches is so that we can classify the time as state mandated gym time. In our state, gym is the only subject with mandated time but with all the other tests mandates it it hard to get all the minutes in without taking away from reading/writing/math/computer/etc. so if we put a gym teacher out there at recess we can count the minutes towards gym. Our district doesn’t do it anymore but we used to after a parent reported the district for too little gym time.

  22. Eric Antebi says:

    This is such an important issue. As a dad of one young son and another one the way, I can tell you how important play is to a child’s development. So much of a child’s creativity and self-confidence and physical personality comes from their experience of play and we as adults have a responsibility to make sure that our kids get that chance. It think it’s really easy to get nostalgic about play because so many of our favorite memories live there. But the reality for a lot of kids today is something else entirely. They don’t have parents who play with them in their early years. They don’t live in neighborhoods where it is safe to play outside. The come to school not knowing the rules to basic games like kickball, and spend more time arguing about whose turn it is then actually playing. And that chaos leads many more kids actually sit on the sidelines passively. In schools where that is the norm, a recess coach is really the one who is rescuing play. They are teaching kids the rules so there are no more arguments. They give them tools like rock-paper-scissors so they can settle their own disputes. They mentor the troublemakers to be junior coaches, taking a negative influence and turning them into a positive influence. And they create an environment where every kid who wants to play has that chance. I’ve seen Playworks coaches in action many times in some of the toughest school environments you can imagine. And the truth is that kids there are hungry for the magic they bring to the playground. Dr. Phil should grab his sneakers and come out to a school with a recess coach and see and experience for himself. I think he would find that these coaches, who are primarily young AmeriCorps members, are performing an incredible service for our kids, schools and communities.

  23. Having worked in schools- I can say the playground at recess wasn’t a bucolic nod to a bygone childhood filled with constructive play and cooperative imaginations. It was brutal, unstructured, and even dangerous. At best kids found a place to check their phones and avoid bullying and fights. Rarely, did spontaneous play break out- a lot of fights did though.

    Playworks put and end to this by teaching the kids “how to play cooperatively”. Just like we teach kids the foundations for reading and writing we need to teach them the rules of the game that allow them to facilitate their own play sessions.

    As a mom- I hope my kids get to go to a school that encourages my kids to learn the skills I was given by the older kids in my neighborhood. My kids don’t play the way I did; with a big group of kids of all ages. My extended family is scattered across the country- there are no older cousins to teach the rules of kick-the-can, tag, etc. Those skills need to be learned.

    More importantly, Playworks teaches kids to mitigate conflict using tools that children are able to share with their peers.

    It helps to see what happens in a Playworks session firsthand. Dr. Phil – please contact the good people at Playworks and visit schools during recess that both have and don’t have the program.


  24. Rebecca says:

    As a teacher at a public school, I can’t tell you how much time kids spend on the yard arguing, fighting, and playing over-competitively. Before we had Playworks come to our school, I would spend 10-15 minutes every day after recess just debriefing and resolving problems. Now the kids LOVE recess because there are so many game options that keep them moving and playing peacefully. The adults rarely step in now – just in the first few weeks of school to teach the games and teach conflict resolution techniques. Like anything else in school, children need support, encouragement, and good teaching – kids don’t need a “break” if the activities are engaging and fun, and they are! Dr. Phil, you obviously haven’t seen what this looks like on the ground – please come to our school to see! – Rebecca Kee, Paul Revere School, San Francisco

  25. Drew M. says:

    I am going to echo Mr. Antebi when he asks Dr. Phil to grab a pair of sneakers and head out to recess at a school with a Playworks staff member. He would quickly discover that having this person present as a facilitator of all kinds of games and opportunities for physical activity IS NOT the same time as structuring recess time. The notion that these young adults are out on the recess yard running a huge gym class for a playground full of kids is ludicrous. The environment just doesn’t lend itself to that type of instruction. The 4 core values of the organization should tell you a lot about what Playworks is trying to accomplish: Respect, Inclusion, Healthy Play and Healthy Community.

    By creating safe spaces with shared expectations of behavior (rules for games), fostering a culture of mutual respect and teaching a universal method of conflict resolution (rock-paper-scissors) students are able to safely enjoy all of the games we remember from our childhoods.

    As a former Playworks coach in San Francisco I remember showing up to an overcrowded concrete playground that was amok with activity. The unstructured free-play model had become an incubator for bullying, exclusion, fights and loss of very limited equipment. By creating and defining spaces for games to occur (”this is the kickball court kids… this is where we play 4-square… if you want to hula hoop you’ve got to check it out here and return it here…”) the kids could naturally engage in the very types of physical activity that we all need. The kids do learn to entertain themselves, but many lack the tools to do that safely and respectfully without a little help.

    Just as educators scaffold their lessons to teach multiplication and long division, so too do we need to educate our youth to work our their problems constructively, play together respectfully and enjoy the right to be kids! Plus, it’s hard to argue with the success that Playworks has had in some of the most challenging urban school environments in the country. Ask Principals who bring them on as members of their staff. Ask kids who look forward to going to recess so they can play with each other and their coach. Ask parents who come out to recess and experience the difference in atmosphere that a recess coach can bring to their school. I have no doubt that they’ll let you know just how awesome it is to have a superhero at recess.

    PLAY ON!

  26. Rita Wings says:

    These kids in the article have something that’s at least called “recess.” In the Osceola school district in Florida, kids don’t even have that. When we moved here and my grandchildren started school, I called the principal to complain on their behalf. I was told that the district has no one to supervise recess, that there’s no time in the school day because of mandated hours of instruction, but that it’s okay because on Fridays they sometimes have field days in the gym with supervised games. I could not find a single “educator” who seemed to think this was a problem.

    Our children are being robbed of some of childhood’s richest experiences. Unstructured play is not only fun, it is a vital physical and emotional release.

    Tragically, in a single generation, we are in danger of losing hundreds of years of children’s culture and tradition. For instance, Ring Around the Rosey was a game invented by children in the 1600’s, perhaps as early as the 1300’s, to help deal with the horrors of bubonic plague. (The plague started with a rosy-red ring-shaped rash, and was believed to be avoided by sniffing pockets filled with flowers or sweet-smelling herbs.) For centuries children with no idea of the game’s origins have continued to enjoy it.

    Until recently, children could go anywhere in the country and know most of the games and rhymes popular in their new location. As a child in Ohio, I made up a substitute for the Einey-Meiny choosing rhyme. When I heard my granddaughter from Washington chanting it, she couldn’t believe that I made it up because “everybody knows it, Grandma.” Whether her friends already knew it when she arrived, or she learned it from her mother and unknowingly taught it to them, it had spread across the country.

    TV, social networks, and computer games are replacing a living historical treasure with cheap corporate knock-offs. Healthy, self-directed outdoor play with friends is quickly being overtaken by solitary, indoor screen-squinting. When the collective wisdom of countless children from the past is lost, it cannot be regained. One of the primary ways that children cope with stress will be gone, and those with no real stake in our children’s future–including the entertainment, junk food, and drug industries–will rake in the profits from our children’s resulting boredom, health problems, and addiction to constant outside stimulation.

  27. Rebecca says:

    I don’t think you need to worry to much about kids not know how to play because of all the techno stuff they use. Just put them outside with a ball or tree or swing and they will figure it out for themselves!

  28. Becky says:

    I am just finishing my 35th year of teaching elementary school and I KNOW kids will play, be creative and inventive if adults get out of their way! That being said, supervision is key to make sure bullying does not happen. What I am so sad about is that school districts are cutting or eliminating recess, P.E. and music classes due to “budget issues”. This is happening during a time when kids are facing obesity and NEED to get outside, play and be taught the love of physical fitness. We need to change educational priorities from “test, test, test” to develoiping the whole child!

  29. MC says:

    Recess is a time for students to have a BREAK. Students should have the freedom to decide how to spend their break. This could range from being involoved in organized sports/games to simply standing by themselves and watching what’s going on around them.

    I think it makes a lot of sense to have adults, or older students organizing optional structured activities during recess and lunch break, and these need to be in addition to the supervisors. A lot of students would really enjoy and benefit from this, and I agree it would help curb bullying and other behavioral concerns.

  30. Jordan Little says:

    I think recess is very important. Kids should be able to go out on the playground and get all their frustrations out by playing the way they want to. (Of course I don’t mean go nuts and start a fight or do something dangerous) If they want to go out and play on the slide, let them slide! If they want to go out and swing. Let them swing!

    Anyways. When I was a little kid the principal separated me from the other students. I was always placed in a small room where I could look out at the playground and I was never allowed to play with the other students. I think it’s important that kids be able to do this.

  31. Bailey Jo says:

    “Recess Coaches” = Outdoor Gym Classes. Many of the things those of us past a certain age used as out door toys for recess are now probably classified as dangers to children! “Back in the day”, if you got cut on Old Lady Old Lady Jerkin’s rusty Buick, the school nurse automatically cleaned it, bandaged you up & your parents were called to see when your last tetnaus shot was & as long as you didnt need that or stitches you were usually right back out there playing again. These days, parents would file a law suit over that. I enjoyed being able to choose if I wanted to play dodge ball, tetherball, jump rope or hanging upside down on the monkey bars trying to keep my dress from going over my head! It is a chance for children to lean to interact with others, make friends, learn to take turns & share. I dont think a play ground is a place for ipods, cell phones or electric technology. Adult Supervision is a must to protect the children from those adults not in the school system, to be sure children do not wonder off & to prevent bullying. A school day is a loooong day for a child to stay focused so to be forced in to “recess coaching” is the same as being forced in to another structured class enviroment that just happens to be out doors. With the high rate of childhood obesity, I do think it is important the child be active in some mannor even if it is just walking around the play ground. Do schools still participate in “The Presidential Physical Fitness Awards” program? That might be a fun, structured recess activity for those who want to participate & are not in any medical danger of participating. It gives them the option of playing how they choose or being involved in a structured physical activity. “Recess Coaches” arent a necessary part of “The Presidential Physical Fitness Awards”. Play ground monitors or teachers watching kids on the play ground can get the kids through this process if they want to participate. As a child, I wanted that patch that says “Presidential Physical Fitness Award” that looked so official v/s playing other things at recess. Seems like it was a 6 wk. or 9 wk. program that we did one school day a week. It sparked a lot of running races & physical activity on the days we didnt have to do it because we were learning to be competitive & how to be good sports if we didnt win.

  32. Kristin says:

    DrPhil~ My name is Kristin. I am 27 and I have 2 children. One is a boy and he is 2 and a girl she is 1. I was in a very abusive marriage and had the courage to walk away. I got away from the beating, the punches, the wipping, and the bruises. The worst was when he choked me to the point I blacked out. When I came to I was beatin and bruised. I needed to leave and I get to 2 best things in my life out of that house. I am so proud! I took the 16 hour drive to Yorkville, IL on December 31st. My children are my world. I moved in with my sister, her husband, and there 4 children 13 -18 months. My sister moved into a nice house BUT my son Aiden has very bad ashtma and cant breath in the unfinished basement were we stay. Treatments havent been working (I give him 4 a day). If he gets sick we will end up in the hospital like 4 times before. I want to know if you could find it in your heart to help us. I am a single mother who can’t find any help me. If I had family to ask I would have asked.If I had friends that could help I would have asked them. I have had a ruff couple of years I have been threw rape (52 stitches), my parents turned there backs on me, the beatings, the bruises, and the pain, leaving my ex husband and now threw a divorce. My kids are the best thing that ever happened to me I think I would have given up if it werent for them. I am not asking for a manison (thats not me), I would have to clean it ..lol I am asking for a little help, a hero, somebody just to take some weight off my shoulders. I am a mother before student, I am a mother before I am Kristin. I wont stop writing, I wont stop blogging, I wont stand asking people on facebook or twitter, I cant stop and there is no way I would give up on one of my children. I need help and I hate admitting it, heck any mother doesnt want to admit she cant take care of one of her children. I care for him in every other way. You would be saving my sons life and you would help me breath easy knowing my baby boy can breathe and we will be safe. Please, thank you for listening to my story. Your friend and fan Kristin

  33. Kristin says:

    Does anyone know does DrPhil read this? I am in need of his help and I need it as soon as possible. I have tried to twitter him, and writing the show. The state isnt going to help, I have no family or friends to ask for help. Please if you read this DrPhil please contact me.

  34. Shannon says:

    Yah, and why don’t we tear down all the toy stores while we are at it. As adults, we are entitled to breaks during our 8 hour work day. Going to school is our children’s job like our workplace is our job. Aren’t our children entitled to breaks just as we have?

  35. Carter says:

    No way! Recess is a time for exploration, imagination and social development. Children learn all sorts of things during their play time with peers and I think it’s a mistake to direct every aspect of their day. I believe that recess isn’t just something kids enjoy, I think it’s a necessary part of the school day. Children are expected to sit still, participate and concentrate in the classroom. These are all appropriate expectations of children when they are in the classroom. However, kids need an outlet at some point in their day to just run and play in a way that comes naturally to them. Besides, Uncle Sam mandates that even adults have two 15 minute breaks and one 30 minute break with which they can do whatever they wish during their workdays. Leave recess alone and let kids be kids. They will be grown before you know it and how can we expect them to know how to function appropraitely as adults if we take away their childhood.

  36. Lindsy says:

    I was with you, Dr. Phil. I am just 25 years old and so I had just escaped all this technology that children have now a days. However, I feel it’s wrong to have coaches. I am strongle against the fact that children aren’t allowed to be children. Yes, I know bullying is more of a problem these days. Are there not other resources for these children? Can they not go to a counselor or teacher if they are being bullied. Can’t there just be a semi-coach, just to watch for bullying? Also, cell phones and other multi media devices shouldn’t be allowed in elementary or middle schools! Unless, they are those phones that only allow the child to dial 911, or their parents! If these devices aren’t allowed, perhaps children will be forced to learn how to play because they would die from ebing bored! I am terribly saddened that children can’t be children anymore because of the education system! They can’t play because they are getting homework in Kindegarten! I realize that that’s the way society is these days. That children need to have higher education, but at what risk? I don’t believe the answer is by destroying their childhood! Children should have TIME to play! I’m glad you wrote about this! A very interesting topic, indeed!

  37. Michelle L. says:

    My child is 11 and is leaving recess behind next year for Middle School (which I don’t get that either – what’s the difference from Jr. High?) but, he, and his classmates play kick ball every day. Girls AND boys. I find it hard to believe that his is the only elementary school that does that. He does spend a lot of time on electronic devices however, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t know how to play. He plays with friends in the neighborhood we live in and when it gets warm enough, he swims every day after school. I think those people should leave recess alone! Let the kids have their free time as long as they can. I know my son isn’t looking forward to giving it up next fall.

  38. Johanna says:

    As the child of a 9-yr. old boy I think the ‘coach’ concept is a good idea. Especially for those kids who are being bullied. My son is adopted and at the age of three he was, and still is, a little behind the curve when it comes to social skills. To have another person there helping him learn to do what is right is a blessing. On two occasions I have had to go into the office to let them know that he was being bullied. Because of his skill, or lack thereof, he did not know how to handle this and was not forthcoming about the issue. I noticed one morning that he was hiding in the back seat when a certain boy would walk by our car. I asked him why and he finally told me what was happening.

    I always want him to know that I am in his corner and will be there for him. The teachers have all they can deal with, trying to teach 32 kids every day. The recess coach can help provide some options and advice. Of course, this may not be exactly what the coaches are doing, but, it is one aspect of socialization that certainly needs attention and work

  39. Linda Rose says:

    Today’s children are endanger of becoming robots! They are so structured they can’t think for themselves. They think everything that is not “fun” is bad and they are “bored” if not constantly entertained by TV, video games, ipods or cell phones with internet.

    Problem could be solved if all parents stopped providing all the techology for their kids to use.Parents are directly responsible for the lazy, un-motivated,self-absorbed, anti-social, self- entitled generation that has no immagination left. NOT all kids are this way thankfully but way to many are.

    If you find motivated, polite, interesting, creative, ambitious, caring, imaginative children chances are you will find parents who are the same.Children mirror what they see growing up.

    I have baby- sat for many years and seen children over-all go from being care free and immaginative when playing to un-motivated and bored if not constantly entertained and stimulated.

    I know when five year olds say” I’m bored|” if away from video games and TV they have lost their immaginations! Parents need a wake up call. Adults should not have kids if they don’t want to invest time in them. Investing time does not mean organizing their every waking moment. It does mean giving your children time to explore and play under a watchful eye to make sure they are safe.

    It does mean keeping communication open right from birth and talking to them so as they grow they will talk to you. Rearing children is a huge responsibility and too often is entered into uninformed and with no planning. Accidental parenting doesn’t produce good results. Personally I don’t think everyone who wants kkids should have them.

  40. Eirik says:

    Hey, I’m a 15 years old boy, and i think my parents has gone too far.
    One day I didn’t feel well, and I puked, so i had to be home from school.
    When my mom got home, she said, i’m removing your TV-games, since you have been to much ill, (it’s been over 2 months since last time i was home for a couple a days ago) I’m healthy, i have good grades at school, i’m outdoors alot, and she said that i was ill becouse of the TV-games, and I know it’s NOT. and now shes taking the video games away for a week, i have to go to bed 21:30, and me and my brother got to have a babysitter when my parent’s are gone for 5 hours.
    I am NOT a child anymore, and she don’t listen to me. What should I do? Who do you agree with, my mom or me?

  41. Blgspc says:

    Now YOU know(!) Some folks just ain’t gonna be satisfied unless and until they have structured and managed every single bit of time in every child’s life!

    And, about the statement that, “A lot of these kids have no idea what to do when you tell them to go out and play.”” Well, when I was in grade school the same could have been said of MY use of recess time. My twin sister and I had made use of some HUGE tin cans that the Lunch Room folks had discarded. We were digging ENORMOUS Foxholes in the very back of the playground, near the woods, preparing for an imaginary war that was going to be descending on tiny little Ocean Drive Elementary School- located just a few blocks from the ocean. THE WAR WAS IMMINENT! We just knew that our adversaries were heavily armed and that we would indeed NEED those foxholes to protect us from relentless Laser Gun fire that was SURELY part of our enemy’s arsenal! Alas, after three and a half weeks the invaders never came and unfortunately an overly curious adult had gone for a walk in the area and accidentally fell into one of our three foot deep holes and they MADE us fill those holes!!! We were bored for a good 5 minutes before we got up with some other kids who found some bamboo growing nearby and we learned to make pea-shooters! (AND, THE ADULTS DIDN’T LIKE THOSE EITHER!!! There’s just NO PLEASING some people!)

    Anyhow, MY point IS–> PLAY IS THE ‘WORK’ OF CHILDREN!

    Unstructured play is essential for healthy growth and development in children. Unstructured play allows for fantasy, creativity, learning to negotiate and ABOUT A BILLION other things that are PRIMARY for healthy function later in life! I don’t believe that CHILDREN have a problem when it comes to play. However, as adults we do have to take those electronic gadgets and let kids fend for themselves when it comes to recess.

    Lastly, children should be supervised when playing and if there is a problem with bullying THAT NEEDS to be addressed! The problem of bullying SHOULD NOT be managed by eliminating unstructured playtime! That’s like cutting off your nose to stop a nosebleed!


  42. katie says:

    I agree that some kids need help but if they just paid attention to how kids are naturally, then they would see that all they would need out there with the kids are some people to watch over kids so they don’t get hurt. I was in an elementry school 4 years ago and kids didn’t act as they were describing. It still is clear in my head because I’m barely 15. Only a few actually were texting and that was to their parents. Most were running around, playing basket ball or wall bath, and sometimes four-square. The schools opinon makes me wonder about how much they pay attention to the children instead of an incorrect statistic.

  43. SpiderBee13 says:

    I really think that schools are forced to go the extra mile because of the changes throughout the years and have no choice but to resort to more structured ideas in the school environment in order to express their concerns for these children that are receiving their entertainment needs from other devices rather than their own parents! Because more parents are relying on other resources to attend to their children rather than doing it themselves like real parents are suppose to, schools are finding out that picking up the slack for the well being of these children, the only way to have control over a growing out of control situation is to start establishing more structure even if it means doing it out on the playground! Quite frankly with the lack of a parents responsibility or other adults responsibility to these kids, I think the schools are doing a great job filling in the gaps and keeping our children even more safe around the schools and on the school premises during vulnerable times of the day!

  44. April says:

    I am autistic and i have an autistic son and hear loud and clear concern over recess issues…what works for us is practicing social situations BEFORE they happen and we have primers that explain game rules at the school as well as a social therapy group where we practice and learn about NT *normal* behaviour :) and we have my son rate his moods on scales of 1 to 5…he knows when he is at a 4 he needs to take time out and now does this himself so we make sure we dont get to a 5 which means meltdown. My son is 11 and really our key to sucess is having HIM in charge of HIM and what i mean by that is responsible for his actions and managing his needs. HE knows how HE feels better then anyone so it was really a matter of getting him to KNOW himself and understand when he is overwhelmed what he can do to take control of his environment in a healthy way so his needs are met without disrupting the needs of his classmates. I think that helps more then a recess coach ever could becuase as an autistic i can tell you we need to learn for ourselves when possible…as the free play allows my son to observe and mimic normal childhood behaviour. Too many adults have a way of mucking things up and generally destroying creativity albeit with good intentions. loose supervision to insure no bullys or baby snatchers are about should be enuff for anyone. a good recess starts at home :)

  45. Linda Lesser says:

    wow they don’t have anything like this in the little town I live in. Well not that I know of.
    I would have to say what in the world are they doing to our kids; I am one who believes that a child should be a child until they have to be grown. That is one thing I feel is wrong with the world today; they don’t believe that a child should be a child. The children are in competition from the day they are born. My child is smarter than your child syndrome. The children should be allowed to play at least one period a day just to think, imagine and play with their friends. If they want to read let them take a good book to the play grounds.

  46. Kathy Gregory Brack says:

    As a teacher and therapist, I was stunned at the thought of a structured outside adult directing children! Yes, no cell phones, etc., etc., etc., for the parents sake as they yell when they get broken, and safety for the child. PLEASE let a child discover their imagination, creativity, not competitiveness! Oh dear after 30yrs as a mom and therapist, First is safety in the environment and the children. Then provide a few tools for them to be CREATIVE with, a balls of all types, bean bags, bubbles, chalk, blocks (not leggos), books- under a shady tree, puppets, dress up clothes NO NO guns or similar items (if a child wants to play guns let them point the bubble wand at the other child, or use their finger- but it should be discouraged to empower a child to use their words for feelings NOT objects. Items for digging (where permitted), bags/buckets to collect items they find, to discuss in class (science), dolls/clothing/house play items under a tree, cars/trains. Cooperative play items, boxes of varied cultural toys for discovery. Science items: magnifying glasses, telescopes, pinwheels, fans etc. A wooden work bench (now wthis is with an adult present for safety), nails, odd pieces of wood varieties, take the wooden rods you can buy in Home Depot and cut short pcs. for wheels), rulers, scales to weigh items, Gee should I go on…….Lets give our children discovery and adventure that is not electric/battery driven, with their classmates…..

  47. Jane says:

    Ideally, at first coaches might be necessary to help kids learn to play, but then the coaches need to step back into more of a monitor role so the kids learn how to handle their differences, pick teams, etc., etc. Being kids, they will always need supervision, but recess should be a time free of planning and structure.

  48. Nanci says:

    This is so ridiculous. If kids don’t know how to “play” and get along with others it is directly a result of over-protective parenting. Kids who are kept inside on electronics and junk food, and kids who are allowed to venture out only as far as the boundries their own yards, and only if they are fenced, can’t possibly know how to get along with others and make up their own games. This is so sad. Parents are so focused on keeping their kids safe and making everything fair that kids don’t learn the proper social skills, how to be creative, or how to deal with the real world. Parents need to back off and let kids solve their own problems. If the other kids are being mean to little Johnny maybe little Johnny needs to learn the right social skills to fit in, having mommy come over and tell them all to play fair and get along and let everyone have a turn is ridiculous. The world is not fair and teaching kids that it is, or should be, is doing them a great disservice in the long run. My kids are 8 and 6 and run all around the neighborhood on foot and bikes. They play with neighborhood kids and spend hours each day outside being silly, creative and dirty. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Send your kids outside, stop hovering to make sure they’re safe, and everyone is being fair to them all the time and they will grow up a lot better for it!

  49. JennH says:

    Have you ever gone to a school and stood out on the playground and watched the kids? How many of them are standing still, staring at their phone or their ipod? How many others are simply sitting in small groups? The statistics about childhood obesity are frightening and the sad fact is that most kids do not go outside or exercise at all when they are at home. I think the schools are just trying desperately to fix a bad situation because most parents aren’t willing to do anything about the problem.

  50. Carrie says:

    My knee jerk response is…WHAT? Kids need free time! If my kids’ school hired a recess coach, I’d want more information. For starters, budget cuts are forcing elimination of teachers, so I doubt they’d have money for recess coaches. I have made connections with the school’s staff that would lead me to expect good reasons and a well thought out plan for such a position. Staff at my kids’ school is well qualified, experienced, devoted and creative. If recess coaches (or some other goofy sounding fad) are coming to schools in your community, get information. Find out the need, the cost, the plan. Be part of the solution. Good educators create excellent results within their budget. Poor educators waste embarrassing amounts of tax dollars.

Leave a Reply