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Herriman Journal

Knights rescue students from stress of recess

Sep 15, 2021 01:16PM ● By Jet Burnham

Recess can be lonely for some students, but at Silvercrest Elementary, they always have the option to join the Game of the Week. (Anne Carter/Silvercrest Elementary)

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

It’s recess time at Silvercrest Elementary and while most students are enjoying free play, a girl sits unhappily by herself. Suddenly, a knight in shining armor (or rather a yellow t-shirt) comes to the rescue, inviting her to join in a game. Once again, the yellow-shirted recess coach has saved the day!

“For most people recess is the favorite time of the school day,” assistant principal Leilani Brecht said. “But for some students, it causes anxiety or loneliness. This is where our recess coaches come in.”

Recess coaches are fifth and sixth grade students who patrol the school playground during recess wearing bright yellow shirts so they are easily identifiable. They distribute and collect recess equipment, monitor the doors to the school and look for kids who need someone to play with.

At Silvercrest Elementary, kids can choose free play at recess but there is also always a game that they can join. With a program called Knights at Play (the school mascot is a knight), there is a daily structured recess activity, supervised by an adult, for students who need help navigating the physical and social games of recess time.

“To reduce some of the conflicts and problems that we had between students and to help kids that are having a hard time finding friends or finding places to play, we have a designated area for Knights at Play,” Principal Ann Pessetto said.

P.E. teacher Anne Carter oversees Knights at Play. She features a Game of the Week during lunch recess, which ranges from kickball, Sharks and Minnows, Night at the Museum and bowling to indoor video games on bad weather days. All games are designed to be inclusive and flexible so kids can join in or leave at any time. Participants learn how to make friends, resolve conflicts, take turns, gain confidence and use good sportsmanship, said Carter.

Recess coaches help run the Game of the Week.

“I give them as much responsibility as possible, even input on what we should play and how they think we should work out the teams,” Carter said. “It gives them those skills for going into middle school and having that leadership role.”

Recess coaches meet regularly to develop leadership skills such as how to get people to listen to you without being bossy, how to initiate a conversation, how to organize a game, and how to detect and resolve problems.

Some recess coaches enjoy a leadership role or like helping younger students. Others like to have something to do during recess. Brecht said each recess coach has natural strengths that benefit the group during their bimonthly discussions.

“One of my favorite parts of our meetings is when they discuss concerns or problems on the playground and we work as a team to come up with the best solution, evaluating the consequences and likelihood of each proposal,” Brecht said. “It's great to learn from them and see their perspective and to teach them to evaluate outcomes.”

Brecht believes using recess coaches at Silvercrest strengthens the relationships between younger and older students, which benefits both age groups.

“The younger kids have good role models to look up to and ask for help and the older kids step up and outside themselves to do good for others,” Brecht said. “It is a low-risk opportunity for students to grow themselves. It is the best to see students' confidence and awareness of our interconnectedness blossom as they are recess coaches. It develops another layer of belonging.”

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