One perk from working in elementary schools is the return of recess. I always liked recess as a kid and obviously, after elementary school, you really didn’t have it anymore. However, now that I’m working mostly in these kinds of schools, I will often take a break and step outside during recess or be invited to play a game by the kids.
While recess occurs everywhere, I mostly participate it in my Tuesday and Wednesday school. In my Tuesday school, a majority of the kids will be jumping rope outside either by themselves or in a group with a giant jump rope. Usually, while I’m walking around some little kid will stop me and ask me to try jumping rope with them. I was always bad at it but even when I try and fail, they seemed to enjoy it a lot. Also, they’re fascinated that kids do this in the United States too. Sometimes I wonder what their perception of our country is…
H-sensei’s classroom is usually doing group jump rope. I will almost always stop by and participate with them. They think it’s really funny when they see me jumping like an idiot but they really enjoy having me around. I also think it’s good to interact with the 5th graders outside of class because it eases off the tension or nervousness around you during class. They’ll feel like they can approach you or participate without caring about mistakes or embarrassing themselves.
My 5th grade class from my Wednesday school is a perfect example. Without fail, every Wednesday, one of the Bromance Brothers will open the door to the staff room and say “Diego! Let’s go outside and play!” I play with my 5th graders there every week and we get along really well in class because of it. I’ve gotten to know most of my students during recess and they’re less afraid to approach me during that time too. At my Wednesday school, I will be usually stopped by every grade outside with an offer to play with them. There’s something always going on outside like a game of kickball, dodgeball, tag, jump rope, soccer, etc. Once in a blue moon, kids from different grades will play with each other in a huge game of kickball or something. It’s really funny because the kids will really get into the game. You’ll see kids performing chants for the kicker and other random things that I never saw back home.
For some reason, in my Wednesday school there is a 30 minute block near the end of the day where most kids can do whatever they want. They usually end up going outside and playing. I call this block of time “True Recess” because the regular recess time is only around 10 minutes, tops. The 5th graders and I play soccer then. Their version of soccer is a bit interesting and only involves half the court. There will be two teams and one goalie. Both teams are trying to score on the single goalie, who is Hiro. Since we only use half the court, it can get pretty hectic and intense. When I walk outside, one of the kids (usually the younger Bromance Brother) will inform me what team I’m on. It’s amusing playing soccer with them because whenever I get the ball and start running towards the goal, everyone starts freaking out and don’t even bother approaching me. While I may be taller and stronger than all the kids, they’re really fast and nimble compared to me. I’ll usually be playing defense and when I try to get the ball away from them, they will fly right through me with no problem. However, there are some kids that freak out when they see me running their way and will give up. Sometimes the math teacher will join in, which is a lot of fun.
Recently, we’ve been getting into basketball. Instead of randomly throwing me in a team, we start off by picking our favorite players. As one would expect, I’m usually selected first. If I ever get on Mimi’s team, she usually gets very excited. Mimi and I are usually on the same team and if we aren’t, she’ll get unhappy about it. Anyways, we have been getting a lot of the girls to play basketball compared to soccer. Mimi is always playing with us but now we have around 3 or 4 more girls in addition to her. It’s funnier when they play because they will make a lot of comments and nicknames for us. They always call me “Team America” and whenever I score, they’ll say “As expected of Team America,” with a dramatic nod. This one 5th grader, I’ll call him Bold Glasses (or BG for short), is really good at sports and basketball is no exception. He makes almost every shot he makes in. For some reason, the girls have nicknamed him “Team Brazil”.
“Why Brazil?” I asked them.
“Why not?” they replied.
Now whenever BG gets a shot in, the girls will say “Oh, awesome job ,Brazil!” , “Team Brazil won’t be defeated by Team America”, or “Of course he got it in, he’s Team Brazil.” Maybe I’ll switch his nickname to Brazil. Brazil and I are usually rivals because despite his geeky look, he’s pretty athletic.
Eventually, the “school’s over” song will start softly playing from the building after 30 minutes to which everyone groans to. We always have so much fun that time flies by. It’s quite the workout too; I’m usually sweating a lot by the time True Recess ends. True Recess is one of the biggest reasons I like my Wednesday school; it makes me feel like a kid again. I wonder if I’ll still be playing with them when they’re 6th graders? I guess I’ll find out next month.
I’m glad recess is back. Going back to that time of innocence is welcomed with open arms by me.