I am not sure what recess is REALLY like through the eyes of a child with special needs. I can only relate to my own childhood. I spent half of it trying to avoid running into boys or bullies and the other half waiting for my turn to get on a swing. I loved swings. I was the champion “parachuter” waiting until my swing turn was over and then taking my swing to its highest high (and without inverting my arms...that was for sissies), I would eject myself from my swing and come floating down to the ground. It was really a playground “rush”.
For a child with special needs a playground can be a source of development or another source of frustration. What do I do? Who will play with me? How do I get onto a swing? Who do I ask? What if its too cold? Too hot? What if no one wants to play with me? What if I don’t want to play?
Recess offers an opportunity for teachers to become “social advocates” for ALL children. Socialization on the playground is quite different than that in the classroom. A keen set of eyes can single out a “left out” child or inappropriate playground behavior. An involved teacher can interact with children and use recess time to create an obstacle course, relay race, play social games or just get to know a child on a whole different level. Yes, this takes some thinking and time away from just relaxing, but the rewards can be great! Maybe it would be best to rename “recess monitor” to “recess engager”. Of course, there are times kids just need to be left alone to figure things out and there are times to be involved. I do think as teachers we should take an oath...”First Do No Harm.” The playground is a perfect place to start.
Need some great recess equipment? Take a look at some adapted swings on pp. 76-81 located in the Abilitations on-line catalog-click here.
Here’s to some great outdoor play!