Update February 2017: Now that my blog is getting more attention, I want to place some references that are needed. Playworks is a phenomenal organization promoting the essential need and ways to achieve positive recess experiences for all our children. They contribute to SHAPE America and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's work on this subject.
Back in college, I picked up the opinion that everyone is made up of 3 parts and we all have an innate relative strength in each one. Athletes are strongest in their bodies. Scholars, in their minds. Those interested most in social or societal issues, their spirit.
The things I’ve dealt with over the last week have proven yet again that, although I’ve grown quite a bit over my 45 years, my internal needle still runs screaming away from Body, especially when my favored arena, Mind, is not on its top game. That 3rd piece of the puzzle, Spirit, has been called upon heavily to compensate. Deep breathing meditations for the win! Lol! :-)
How could this 3-part system play out on the playground? What would it look like and what could we do to support each student’s overall being?
Body: Here’s where the traditional game-players shine. Kickball, soccer, basketball- some kids want it all. We need to play with them and challenge/support these students to also consider the Spirit: cheer each other on, use Ro-sham-bo, and let it go. Out on the Tag field, they can use their Minds to come up with new games to try.
Mind: I immediately think of those who gravitate to the Imagination Station or choose to Walk & Talk. They want their own physical or mental space to wander in. We can encourage them to explore- within boundaries. Smaller games like Hot Shot Soccer or Bucketball can be “gateway” games to engage their Bodies- for those who shy away from group play and maybe cultivate their Spirit with one or 2 other students instead of a crowd.
Spirit: These students are the ones who protect others, seek justice or may be so “sensitive” they are scared to play games. They may encourage others to jump safely over the snakes in Jump Ropes & Hula Hoops or give adults regular updates on events they perceive to be of concern. We can support and encourage them to at least watch a kickball game and cheer on the players, to begin opening up their Bodies, if they aren’t comfortable enough to try it themselves yet. We can remind them (engaging their Minds) that the Playworks system lets us all play and have fun at a level we’re comfortable with. When nurtured, folks with high levels in Spirit can be the real cheerleaders of the strength in Playworks!!