Category Archives: recess

Sudbury Valley School vs playgrounds and recess

I think the problem I have with playgrounds, especially #6 below (with the huge blue blocks) is that even the good ones (and these are rare!) are contrived and are not going to hold interest for long — like a museum. I guess I would have to see if any had much staying power vs the more real / organic / wild / natural versions of (#1) adventure playground and (#2) the campus of Sudbury Valley School (SVS) but I would guess not.

And not only because the blue blocks are less useful than real tools or artifacts the kids create from actual found objects (as at SVS), but also importantly, because (especially at Sudbury Valley School) the kids are in charge of their own time COMPLETELY. It isn’t just a 1/2 hour recess… it is their whole day that they are free to do as they wish — playing (or working… call it as you wish) outdoors or indoors.

And also importantly, at Sudbury Valley School (and other Sudbury Schools) it is within a context of a self-governed community — real direct democracy as embodied in the SVS Lawbook and executed by the Judicial Committee, the School Meeting, and the various elected clerkships and committees. Real consent of the governed is powerful.

Whereas, at a “playground” at some arbitrary short point, the whistle will blow, or the parents will say “times up” after an hour or 2.

Also, outside of school hours… playgrounds are typically hit or miss.  Unless in a safe, dense area…. it is going to mean kids need to get their via parents/cars.  Vs at SVS, there is a rich environment of “everyone is here” available.  Cohousing neighborhoods offer that possibility as well, as long as people aren’t doing too much in the way of scheduled, adult run outside activities, pulling them away from the neighborhood.

LINKS

1) Adventure Playgrounds
http://adventureplaygrounds.hampshire.edu/index.html
(as noted here: http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/03/hey-parents-leave-those-kids-alone/358631/)

2) Sudbury Valley School
http://sudval.org/
(as noted here with links to fort building and other outdoor play: https://ehaugsjaa.wordpress.com/2013/11/30/outdoors-at-school/)

3) Power tools for kids
https://ehaugsjaa.wordpress.com/2011/03/20/power-tools-for-kids/

4) Wilderness programs for kids
e.g. http://earthworkprograms.com/

5) Fat Albert — cartoon at the junkyard
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WT-fxBNKs8

6) Imagination Playgrouds (sterile version of Adventure Playgrounds)
https://playgroundology.wordpress.com/category/imagination-playgrounds/
company that makes big blue blocks: http://www.imaginationplayground.com/

7) How Little League sports used to be (no parents… just kids)
Excerpt from Peter Gray
https://ehaugsjaa.wordpress.com/2009/10/27/little-league-in-sun-prairie-wisconsin/

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Filed under outdoors, play, playgrounds, recess, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School

Outdoors at school (also known as recess?)

Daria: What types of things do the children learn at Sudbury School?

Mimsy: Well, I think they learn every type of thing but there are some things that I think every kid has to learn here because you can’t be here and not learn them. One of those things is to love the outdoors. Kids can spend as much time outside as they want here and that’s very healthy for their minds, their hearts, their souls, their bodies. There’s not a kid who’s gone to school here who doesn’t afterwards talk about how important the outdoors was to them.

(from a radio interview transcript here)

Some typical examples of outdoor/nature play at Sudbury Valley School and other Sudbury Schools:

Forts and outdoor play at The Circle School

Some very elaborate outdoor pretend play that goes on for days and weeks at a time

Outside at Sudbury Valley

– A few photo galleries: The Slate Store, Fishing, Rocks, Forts, Sandbox
more epic forts

– I regularly catch glimpses of basketball, football, ultimate, wiffleball games with kids as young as 4 and as old as 17.

– … Kids still outside doing pretend play or nerf-gun pretend battles or home-brew tag games or playing in the stream, etc. etc. even though it is a late fall afternoon and starting to get dark and is less than 40F. It’s not uncommon to arrive at around 4pm to pick up my kids and there to be 20-30 kids outside. Or to arrive and have only a few kids outside — already eating lunch at the picnic table even though it is 10am and cold.

Just depends on the day.

LOVE IT.

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Filed under forts, nature / outdoors, recess, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School