WHAT’S GETTING IN THE WAY OF PLAY? AN ANALYSIS OF THE CONTEXTUAL FACTORS THAT HINDER RECESS IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS

Lauren McNamara

Abstract


This article describes the first two years of an ongoing, collaborative action research project focused on the troubled recess environment in 4 elementary schools in southern Ontario. The project involves an iterative, dynamic process of inquiry, planning, action, and reflection among students, teachers, university researchers, university student volunteers, and community agencies. The goal is to proactively transform the social landscape of recess into an engaging, positive, inclusive, and active environment. We present a brief review of research on recess in order to contextualize our project and highlight the important links between recess activities, school engagement, and academic outcomes. We then highlight the children’s voices about their recess environment, and add perspectives from the teachers, principals, and playground volunteers. Finally, we present our collective suggestions for action that will lead us into the next phase of our project.

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