If you are an educator and you see that a child is constantly alone at recess or lunch, call a meeting, come up with a plan, do something to help that child.
Research supports the notion that there are strategies we can use to help a child not be alone at recess, such as more structured play time, incorporating more specified activities where those with shared interests can join in, and helping students initiate and maintain conversations!
There is nothing worse than watching dozens of children play together or eat together while you are alone.
Maybe the child does not know how to approach others, maybe the child has been rejected in the past and is now afraid to try, maybe the child gets nervous in conversations and doesn’t know what to say, maybe the child is afraid that they are not good at sports and won’t be accepted, maybe they’re afraid that people don’t like them or don’t care about spending time with them, maybe they just don’t feel accepted by their peers.
Whatever the reason is, we need to notice this and step in. We are the protectors of our children. We are the ones that need to notice when there is a problem and try to do something to make it better. We decided to go into the field of helping children for a reason and we need to take that beyond the classroom and do whatever we can to help our children feel like they matter and they have a place in this world.
Even if you are the only one talking to that child at recess, you are making a difference so that child is not alone.
If a child specifically tells you they want to be alone and they do not want to play with anyone at recess or talk to anyone, yes that needs to be respected, but then we still need to look into why this child is feeling a need to isolate themselves and how else we can support them.
Also, recess is frequently used as a threat to punish children when they don’t do work in the classroom. Research shows that this is actually counter-productive and is not recommended at all.
Furthermore, what do you think it is like for a child who has no one to play with at recess when you threaten to take recess away because they don’t complete their work? Maybe they would rather stay inside with you and complete their work so they are not alone walking around in an open field unsure how to fit in.
To everyone out there who already tries to make a difference for kids, thank you for everything you do!!!
Video on the Importance of Recess
What we see in the video below may not be the answer for all but at least this fourth grader tried. If he did, so can we!
Education and Behavior, a free resource for parents, educators, and counselors.
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Rachel Wise is a certified school psychologist and licensed behavior specialist with a Master’s Degree in Education. She is also the head author and CEO at educationandbehavior.com, a site for parents, educators, and counselors to find effective, research-based strategies that work for children. Rachel has been working with individuals with academic and behavioral needs for over 20 years and has a passion for making a positive difference in the lives of children and the adults who support them.