Live Oak was designated a KaBoom “Playful City” in 2013
By Tamra Taylor, Superintendent Live Oak School District
Anna is one of Live Oak School District’s three elementary recess coaches whose job is to organize fun games and activities during the schools’ two recess periods. The District has also hired an intramural coordinator who organizes lunchtime activities at Shoreline Middle School.
We decided to invest in recess during the 2015-16 school year as part of our District goal on Wellness for two reasons. First, we wanted to support and encourage kids to be physically active during their break time. Second, we wanted to extend students’ social-emotional learning outside of the classroom.
We trained coaches, yard duties, after school personnel, and principals in the Playworks recess curriculum which promotes a vision for recess where “everyone plays, everyone belongs, everyone has the opportunity to get in the game. Playworks coaches encourage kids to bring out the best in themselves and each other, and kids learn the value of fair play, inclusion, and respect.” We are now is our second year of this effort and the results so far have been incredibly positive.
“Our recess coach has provided organized games and fun activities to those kids who otherwise might not be involved with other kids playing games. She’s also a very talented and wonderful person that has brought a lot of joy and excitement to our recess time.” Greg Stein, Principal of Live Oak Elementary
Coaches have noticed that the young kids starting school for the first time often don’t have any concept of group play. Playworks has given them the structure and training to guide and assist these student with the skills needed to positively interact with their peers on the playground. It also emphasizes inclusion; you will often see yard duties referring kids over to the recess coach to ensure no child is isolated during recess time. “I feel like I’ve succeeded if the kids make friends and ‘graduate’ to play other activities during recess.” Anna Allen, Recess Coach at Live Oak Elementary
The coaches have developed strong relationships with the District’s P.E. teacher which has helped to support skills he’s teaching during P.E. time, schedule use of equipment and space, and brainstorm activities to try out. Playworks provides a free “Games Library” that coaches use as a resource, but they also look to YouTube for new ideas and collect feedback from the kids to keep the games engaging. The Live Oak Education Foundation holds “positive play” as one of its three funding priorities and has allocated funds to each elementary school for recess equipment in order to support the District’s recess programming.
Middle school students are obviously going to have different needs than elementary students so the activities planned by their intramural coordinator are different as well. “There are large numbers of students who want to play organized games at lunchtime but they wouldn’t know how to arrange them on their own. Because of the intramural coordinator, we’re seeing kids make friends when they join flag football, soccer, grass volleyball or basketball games. And we’ve noticed that with the increase of organized activities at lunch, we’re also seeing a decrease in behavioral issues during lunch.” Colleen Martin, Principal of Shoreline Middle School
We understand the power of play for students; it gives them opportunities to develop leadership skills, practice how to be a good sport, make new friends, and burn off some of their abundant energy. We want them to go back to class energized and ready to learn: a win-win for everyone!