SchoolFamily Voices

Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.

The Impact of Too Little Unstructured Playtime

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This past Monday night I chose to be the voice of my young students.

In front of school committee members, the superintendent, and 300 or so parents of my school community, I spoke on behalf of all East Providence elementary school children. I asked administrators to reverse their decision to change recess, and to keep our recess exactly as it has been. After a three and a half hour meeting…I am still unsure of the outcome!

It appears now that recess will be a structured event, orchestrated by the classroom teacher. Yet, another piece of the day that someone is telling children what to do.

This is not just happening in my school community. It’s happening everywhere in a child’s life, in every town across America. Between sports, music or dance lessons, crafts, etc. children are programmed and over scheduled.

Creativity and spontaneity are fast becoming extinct. The satisfaction of a child’s enthusiastic “I did it!” has been replaced by the often asked, “What do I do now?” No wonder some children lack self-esteem. Confidence comes from solving problems, and taking pride in a job well done. It is not something that can be taught. It must be experienced!

Let’s reverse this current trend and give an important part of childhood, free unstructured play, back to our children!


#2 Teresa 2010-08-31 13:48
Ms. McCarthy, you are so right-on. This has been an issue of worry for me for some time. Thank you for speaking up about it and for advocating so passionately for the children. My hat is off to you.
How can we help? What can we as parents, citizens, do about this? Surely if we stand together we all can make a difference.
#1 carol williams 2010-08-27 18:50
Thank you for speaking up for those too young to do so.

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