My family will be homeschooling after mid-winter vacation. It might seem surprising that one of the biggest reasons is recess.
When my son shares his thoughts about recess, it sounds like survival in a prison yard.
My TBP describes in details the well-known hierarchy; the most popular, the most athletic, the most physically intimidating. He talks about the numbers of kids and the impossibility for the adults to really know what is going on. He tells that there are places that the adults can’t see. He talks about those certain kids that hang out in those certain places and give unwelcoming looks to those that attempt to visit there for a while. He says that this is one of the important things that you have to learn about school. Really? How sad!
He says that you have to watch your back…always.
I know these words seem dramatic for my local elementary playground. Our school is in a nice suburban neighborhood with well-kept houses and a good reputation. Maybe that’s the biggest disguise about what goes on for kids like mine, maybe that is what makes it all so misleading.
For most students, the playground is probably the setting of fun games with friends and a lot of four square; but for my kid, it feels like a flat, paved hell.
Month after month, we have been searching for answers. Why is he SO worried and anxious? Why is school SO hard? Why is he retreating into himself and only wants to be with us? After relentless parental detective work, we discovered that recess is one of my TBP’s biggest sources of anxiety and stress.
The truth began to unfold while I helped my son with his valentine cards. There was a particular name on the list that my son wanted to skip. In the beginning, he gave lame excuses about not being able to find the perfect card or just the right clever saying; then he grew tired of the excuses and shared that this boy has been bothering him all year.
I had heard this boy’s name earlier, but was assured by the school after my inquires that they didn’t see anything strange or out of the ordinary. They added that this boy was much smaller and “more passive” than my son so they “found it hard to believe that he was bullying” my son. My TBP said that this boy constantly follows him and calls him names, names that he wouldn’t tell me. He says that he is like an annoying gnat that won’t go away no matter what, he is everywhere.
He begged me not get involved so I encouraged (lectured) him to tell the school counselor that he trusts. He said that he might. I asked him if this boy was the reason that he didn’t want to go to school. “He isn’t the only reason, but he makes it even harder for me.” He then turned and looked at me as if he needed to remind me one more time who he was, “It is all of it, Mama. All of it is really hard for a very sensitive kid like me.”
As a parent, you don’t expect your child to dread, even fear, recess. The sad reality is that I know he is not the only one.
Have you ever asked your kid about the recess hierarchy at his school?