Recess can be the best part of a kid’s day or it can be a major source of stress and anxiety. For some kids, this is when they are finally able to run free and let off some steam. They love the carefree wiggle time where they can focus on being a kid and enjoy playing with their friends.
Other students aren’t as lucky and do not love recess. There is a multitude of reasons why a child may not enjoy this unstructured free time. For many, their dislike stems from their lack of friendships or the necessary social skills needed to join in with others. With a little bit of help to be comfortable and one person willing to be a friend, they would love this time as well.
Here are six tips for making recess inclusive for all students as they learn the social skills to develop and maintain friendships.
1. School Wide Initiatives/ Guidance Classes
Through my guidance classes, I try to teach a school-wide culture of kindness, friendship, respect, and inclusion. Instilling strong values in our students through our lessons makes it easier to reinforce and encourage those behaviors during recess.
2. Friendship Fence/Buddy Bench
Buddy benches are a super cute way to get kids to socialize with students who may need some help making friends. Some schools have it in their budget to get a buddy bench, others do not. If you want to create a buddy bench on a budget, create a friendship fence instead! They are a cheap alternative, all you need is paper, laminator, zip ties, and a fence. Read more about friendship fences here.
3. Recess Rangers
Recess Rangers are students that are in charge of including kids. When they see someone playing alone or there is a new student, the Recess Rangers are in charge of asking them if they want to play. They are the ones who help kids who may not be comfortable finding a way to join in the games. Encourage teachers to create this roll when assigning class jobs to help ensure that all kids will be included at recess.
4. All-Inclusive, Easy Games
Give students game ideas that include lots of kids and are relatively low skill, such as freeze tag. You could even create a recess game menu that students can refer to when thinking of what to play! This is also a way to create a classroom expectation that all students are involved in the games.
5. Class Wide Pact
Have your class come up with a recess pact. Students create the rules and guidelines that want to follow and how they are going to make sure everyone is included and having fun. Once they are done creating their pact, have all the students sign it and hang it in your classroom. Create a copy of the pact, laminate it and zip tie it to the fence at recess where it can be referred to as needed.
6. Small Groups/Social Skills Development
Some students need a little extra help before they are able to fully participate and make friends. With these students, assess their needs, figure out why they are not making friends and then teach them the necessary social skills in a small group setting. This or this would are my go-tos.
These tips are sure to make recess time fun and inclusive for all!
What do you do to make sure everyone is included?