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Founder and CEO of Playworks

Thank you all for the great

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Thank you all for the great response. It's wonderful to see so many who see the value of play in our schools!
I wrote a novel for kids ages 8-13 call Recess Rules about a group of fifth graders who save recess at their school. And it's free for download on Kindle through December 17th -

Teacher, Writer, and Artist

Here I am about to jump out

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Here I am about to jump out of my skin to read the Cherokee memorial to President Andrew Jackson … and then Old Hickory’s response to the Cherokee Nation … and then the Cherokee Nation’s response right back to our big-haired seventh chief executive. Eloquent arguments by eloquent men destined not to be friends.

But Tempest is over there looking out the window on her tip toes for some reason …

So I don’t say anything. And guess what happens when a student looking out of the window says … What’s he doing lying on the ground out there?

Right, they all jump up from their desks and knock things over to go run over there to the window to see who’s lying on the ground out there. Just like in that scene from A Christmas Story when everybody runs over to the window to see Flick still out there with his wiggly lingua still stuck to the flag pole.

I ask Tempest who in the heck is lying on the ground out there. Recess is over.


God. Homer.

She says he lying on the ground … right under the window.

So I get up about as slowly as I can and open my outside door and there is Homer, over to the left of me, just like Tempest said, laying on the ground. Break was over a few minutes ago and we’re starting class and there’s no one else outside. No one. Expect Homer. Laying on the ground.

But to be fair to Homer, he’s lying on the ground … sure … but he’s technically lying in the flower bed under the window and he’s warped—fetal position style—around the bottom of a type of bush you see a lot in landscape scenarios at schools and commercial office buildings and places of worship. It’s not a Cherokee Rose, if you were wondering. That’s our state flower which comes with a bush and I wouldn’t let anybody die under our state flower bush.

The rest of the class is pushing out the door behind me, but I say in my special Satan voice used for certain occasions exactly like this to get back in the room and sit down and shut up … and then I shut the door with some authority. I looked for fingers. I swear.

Sit down and shut up. Like heck. I can see all the wooden blinds separate and go in all different directions. I also heard giggling.

I go to my training. I let it take over and interfering emotion goes away instantly and efficient thinking and action takes its place. It feels good. With first aid and resuscitation electro-shock training by the local fire department ... and I have a little card in my wallet that certifies that I know how to blow my stale cigar black coffee air and life back into your unconscious body. Anyhow, I first check to see if Homer’s awake and responsive. I poke him with a finger.

Homer opens his eyes.

I ask Homer why he’s lying under the bush there. You know. All alone.

He says he ran into the side of the building.

For some reason I look up at the building. He’s a big 8th grader. He could have knocked a couple of bricks loose and crushed the gutter downspout maybe. I asked him what hurts.

He says his left leg and his back and his head. He says he thinks his left leg might be broken.

I reach into my pocket for my cell phone. I was going to call the school’s main number and get the school nurse down here.

Homer’s eyeballing me … he suddenly says don’t call anybody.

I said okay. I put my phone back into my pocket. I asked Homer an honest question. I asked him, with a big wave of my arm, how come you ran into the building here when the building has been here the whole school year ... actually for two years … and the building is real big and has always been real big. I did my arm again.

He said he was running to class at the end of recess and he was looking the other way and ran into the building.

I believed him. I know Homer. If anyone is likely to run into a building, it's Homer. I asked him if he might try getting up.

He said his left leg really hurt.

I’m also thinking he was pushed into the side of the brick hard building. I said I’ll help you get on up and if your left leg snaps we’ll go from there. I reached out with my right hand and he grabbed it … and I sort of yanked him up. His back and pants legs and the back of his hair was covered with pine straw and grass and leaves and old mulch. I brushed some of it off as he started limping down the sidewalk. I asked him what his next class was.

He said Helena.

Perfect, I said. We’re right here. Helena’s outside door was unlocked and I opened the door for Homer.

Helena looked up from her desk for less than a half of a trillionth of a second and back down again. She didn’t say a word. Here’s Homer being escorted into her classroom by a teacher. Homer is covered with a wide range of school yard botanicals and he’s late for class and he’s limping and his shirt’s untucked and I can’t see it but Homer’s probably got a frequent expression on his face. Helena knows Homer real well, too.

On my way back to The Cozy Room of Learning I stopped at my door before I went in and looked at where Homer had been recuperating. I could hear them inside all scurrying to their desks. It occurred to me that Homer really had run into the side of the building and he really had been hurt. And he’d been out there for a long time.

Alone. Curled up under a bush.

At the end of the morning recess they all run toward the front door of the school building in a wild wad. Many hyperactive boys. All elbows and knees. With unbridled furiousness and intent.

It finally occurred to me: they left Homer for dead.

Then another heavy thought occurred to me. William Golding’s famous 1954 book wasn’t a novel. It was nonfiction. And the movie version of his book wasn’t a movie. Just like Deliverance, Lord of the Flies was a God dang documentary.

Elementary teacher from Memphis, Tennessee

I agree with what was stated

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I agree with what was stated in this blog. I have always been a proponent of recess. I really enjoyed the five steps to making recess friendly. These steps are so important when you teacher kindergarten students because often some of them do not know how to share and solve conflicts on their own. Recess is a teachable moment. We must use it.

first grade teacher, Memphis, TN

Thanks you for sharing

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Thanks you for sharing researched based reasons to include recess in the daily schedule. Many teachers feel they do not have time for recess. They are too busy teaching academics. Some view teachers who take students to recess as lazy. Your post helps me feel justified for taking my first graders to recess everyday. I would want my own children to go to recess everyday.

1st grade teacher, NY

In our school, the kids are

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In our school, the kids are being asked to do more and more each day. I am proud to say that as a team, we highly believe in the benefits that recess has. We try and allow 15-20 minutes each day for recess, and we go outside everyday possible. As long as it is not pouring rain or thundering and lightning, we are outside. I hope this trend can continue in our schools. With so many requirements being sent down from the state, eventually something will have to go.

PE K-College

Interesting, sounds like an

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Interesting, sounds like an effective like an effective Physical Education program. This is everything that any effective PE program and teacher implements within each lesson and unit. I guess as we cut PE and other programs we have to implement this through recess, terrific.

co-founder I am Bullyproof Music


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This is great! It's about time we take play seriously :-)

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