Winter blues: indoor recess and inactivity
By Judianne Jayme
In a recent mentorship training workshop I attended, the facilitator referred to this time of the year as “renewal” for new service teachers – renewal, that is, from the time frame of November and December that they labelled as the “disillusionment” phase. It’s cold and bleak outside, and five minutes before recess, you hear the announcement from the office: “We will be staying inside for recess this morning.”
Students cheer, and I don’t blame them. They’re excited to spend time inside instead of having to brave the Winnipeg winter, which, for new immigrant families, is a lot to take! While I’m all for keeping students warm, there is a visible change in classroom dynamics for teachers returning from recess. Students have a lack of both Vitamin D and ample space for physical activity in a classroom, which can lead to behavioural issues. Students get restless, they become more talkative, and they focus less and less.
We have been blessed with warmer weather this year, but teachers are mentally gearing up for spring when, despite it being warm outside, we cannot send students out due to rain. Indoor recess is inevitable.
At one school, they’ve set up an indoor walking track in the hallway where students walk as an activity break away from their classrooms. I, too, would be antsy if I were eight years old and had to stay in the same room from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.! I like to remind my sixth graders, although I don’t seem to need to remind this current batch, that junior high does not provide an official recess, so they should take this time to truly be active – play tag, play a sport, walk around the field when they’re outside! Do more than just stand and talk, waiting for the bell and to be let in.
I can imagine how children feel if they are cooped up inside during school breaks. Unfortunately, as you know, it may be their own choice to stay glued to the TV or computer. As adults, it is our chance to guide them towards active lifestyles.
Parent tip: get active!
With spring break a month and a half away, consider this advice with ample time to plan. Your child is going to be indoors for quite some time. A few articles ago, I advised you to spend as much quality time together, and to communicate with each other. During the upcoming break, my wish for you is to enjoy the (hopefully) mild weather coming our way!
Plan ahead of time using a community guide to see what events are taking place during this time. There are always family-geared activities and events, knowing that students province-wide are free at this time. Talk as a family about the types of activities that you can do as a group. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a city-hosted event. Grab some sports equipment for a family day at the park or at a local community centre. It’s a good way to spend time as a family, as well as set the example that staying active is important! There truly is more to life than video games and YouTube videos all day.
At this point in time, you have approximately a month to get the ball rolling on your plan to win against those winter blues. Be proactive by being pro active!
Best of luck, stay warm, and beat your winter blues away!
Judianne Jayme is a third year educator teaching sixth grade in the Winnipeg School Division.