So this year my school was told it would be taking on a Master Schedule (I capitalize these words to emphasize the Seriousness of The Master Schedule). It was a really huge deal, and most of the teachers at my school were against it. To be completely honest, at first I didn't fully understand the gravity of the situation. Mostly, I was glad that we would have specials (gym, art, music) at the same time every day. I have to admit it made scheduling my week easier.
But now that we are two months into the Year of the Master Schedule, I'm beginning to see what everyone was upset about. I could write a whole separate blog post about the issues that come with the higher-ups deciding what's best for an individual teacher's classroom schedule. But I'll just focus on the one that gets me the most so far this year: LESS RECESS!
I teach kindergarten, so that means I have a class of 20 wiggly, energetic, can't-sit-still-for-more-than-five-minutes, attention-span-of-the-dog-in-Up kids. If they had their choice, they would spend their entire day playing games and running around on the playground. I am of the opinion, actually, that this would be very good for them. Kids learn through play.
But instead of free play, here is a partial list of what I am expected to have them do in one day:
- Morning alphabet worksheet
- Calendar math
- Computer lab
- Four different math centers
- Readers workshop minilesson and independent reading
- Literacy workstations
- Guided reading
- Interactive read-aloud
- End of the day wrap up
The only things I'm leaving out there are lunch, recess, and free choice.
Now, I think each of these things is important, and my kids are amazing at staying engaged in what I ask them to do. But just look at that list - that is a LOT for a little five-year-old body to handle in one day! And since we need to cram all that in each day, we have very little time for lunch, recess, and free choice. As a matter of fact, my district cut down recess by ten minutes a day, and lunch by five minutes!
I could go on forever about why taking away recess and free time is bad for kids. Childhood obesity, nature-deficit disorder, an increase in ADD diagnoses, proliferation of video games and technology, overscheduling of childhood, lack of unstructured outdoor play at home. All these are reasons why we need MORE recess and unstructured time at school, not less.
But since I know it'll take forever to get politicians and administrators to give us more recess time, I realized I need to take matters into my own hands. One of my goals this year is to incorporate more movement into my students' day at school. I'm always looking for an excuse for the kids to get up and get moving, and I've accumulated a good bunch of ideas.
So, I wanted to share some of the things I do as a teacher in order to get more movement into my already-jam-packed day at school. Kindergarteners (and kids of all ages) need to move, move, move. It helps them learn, and it helps them stay healthy. Without further ado, here are eight tips for incorporating movement into your classroom. If your district is like many around the country (including mine), recess is an endangered species, so we teachers need to get our students moving whenever we can!
Feel free to download and share with other teachers!