Zoom is not recess
The reality is that due to current pandemic restrictions and limitations, our kids are experiencing so many things through a video screen — even recess.
But according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Recess is unique from, and a complement to, physical education — not a substitute for it.” With the majority of students resuming the 2020–21 school year online, children are missing out on the physical opportunities of in-person instruction as well as free play outdoors. Luckily, most school curricula are still including time for recess in students’ schedules. But how does a child experience nature in 15- to 20-minute bursts?
Here are some spur-of-the-moment ideas for parents to include a little outdoor time for their kids in the middle of the day:
- Create a nature table outdoors. Start a collection of new rocks, plants, leaves and insects to study. Have the kids explore the science and biology behind their discoveries during their time indoors.
- Grow a winter garden. In the Pacific Northwest, you can find many different options for winter cultivation, such as kale or ornamental cabbage. Let your child tend the plot and check on the plants’ progress daily.
- Imitate animals. Use their recess time to explore the lives of favorite wildlife. Kids can try hopping like a bunny, flapping their “wings” like a bird and galloping like a horse. Also have them look around to see if they can find natural foods their animal would eat.
- Make leaf art. Take a short walk with your kids to choose some colorful leaves and ferns during a break. Set the leaves out to dry at home and before you know it, you’re ready to make a great leaf collage. Or try one of my personal favorites: making leaf confetti. (Find a great tutorial on Mother Natured.)
- Do a lap around their personal obstacle course. Kong Academy recently shared some great ideas for creating a “living-room ninja” course with the ParentMap audience, and you can extrapolate on this idea for the outdoors pretty easily, even if you have a small yard. (Find more ideas for indoor and outdoor playtime on ParentMap’s YouTube channel.)
- Screen-free recess breaks. Consult our list of indoor and outdoor activities that will give your kids breaks from remote school.
You’ll be surprised by how much difference even 15 minutes can make when you incorporate fresh air, (intermittent) sunshine and even rain into your kids’ daily routine.