Elementary School Recess Healthy Peer Socialization or Danger Zone

It’s not ‘Lord of the Flies’, but recess at my son’s school gives me pause to be concerned. While learning to socialize and play with others is important, I fear there is not enough supervision on the playground.

I can understand how our elementary school must function during recess. Teachers get a break from the kids, while parent volunteers patrol the grounds. However, during a most opportune time to help children interact, there is little if any adult supervision.

Incidents of misconduct are usually first heard at the dinner table, and I wonder how much of this is processed by educators or counselors at his school. Since my son began attending school, I realized the values we try to instill would be challenged. A polite boy might learn some bad language, violent behavior or develop a destructive mentality. I can imagine how severe recess incidents might become for inner city or urban schools, while it has been a minor issue for us.

I’ve attended my son’s recess and saw first graders organizing their own games. I could see that they could implement their own rules and would use ‘rock, paper, scissors’ to resolve disputes. However, without adults, some kids would manage to overuse rules to manipulate the outcome of games. I witnessed children fighting on the other side of the playground and looked about to see if an adult would respond. Before I could intervene, the fight was over.

In some respects, you have to give kids the opportunity to resolve their own issues. Hopefully, they’ve had exposure to basic rules and principles to follow when dealing in these sometimes hostile social environments. I worry most about those children who are victims of bad parenting. I worry my son could become the focal point of another child’s need to pay forward any punishment received at home.

But since the days when I played on school courtyards, I imagine kids are safer now. My son is less likely to be bullied, because he doesn’t have to interact with kids in the higher grades during recess. We are a more politically correct society, with the type of ethics educators now dispense. People of different backgrounds are treated more equally from adults on down.

Recess is a difficult area to control. Socialization is important, and without the insistence of values our son might fall into some bad habits. Parents who get involved can make a difference. I try to participate, communicate what I learn to teachers and school officials. I visit my son’s classroom and join him for lunch and his tour of duty on the playground. Most importantly, I talk to him about respecting others and how he should respond when kids become bullies.

Recess can be a danger zone for kids, but it is a necessary part of the process to teach our children and prepare them for the real world.