I am actively seeking at least one school to partner with in the 2019-2021 school years to conduct action research on recess. Working together, we will explore and document your school’s current state of recess and play, to identify assets and barriers and then work from the inside to build on the assets and address those barriers. We will explore two broad themes:
What is getting in the way of play at recess; i.e., what are the challenges for teachers and administrators, and what is needed to overcome these?
How can your school adapt to provide recess that is safe, organized and inclusive for every child, a recess that is supportive of the child’s overall learning, where they are able to engage and create connections with each other, to play?
This research is being conducted in collaboration with Dr. Lauren McNamara, the founder and director of the Recess Project in Canada (Ontario). Through action research, interviews, observations, she explored the experience of recess from the children’s perspective. Her work asked the questions about why? and what kind of play is happening. It revealed that recess is a place for bullying, the time when children are isolated, they are minimized, they are separated from one another; they are unable to connect with one another. This is occurring at a regular rate. There was a noted barrenness of the environment, and minimal supervision was occurring, there were no toys or games available, which serves to elevate the level of bullying. She realized if we can change the setting, we can change the experience at recess. (see her article) This is how The Recess Project was born.
I anticipate we will find many similarities with Lauren’s work, but that by working within one school, we may come up with different solutions, that would be valuable lessons for recess and play in schools.
SO, I’m hopeful to find a school that is willing to make the commitment in terms of personnel and other resources for assessment, implementation and sustainability. The only other requirement is that it is an elementary school. Ideally, I will find a school that is serving children and families with elevated poverty levels, but in reality, every school faces challenges to meaningful play at recess (and academic pressures are often a barrier). There are many factors that impede play and recess. If you or your school are interested in participating in this type of research, contact me directly. We can get started this summer to ensure every child at your school has joyful recess every day.