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Portland area schools make recess fun, safe

    Deadra Hall is holding kids back — literally. Her arms splayed, the assistant principal blocks fifth-graders from entering the crowded playground. She makes them do multiplication tables, count by sixes and even spell a few words before lifting her arms and letting them pass in small groups.

    This is one of Hall’s many attempts to make recess at Woodlawn School more peaceful and organized.

    Kids seem to play instinctively and to yearn for it. In class, they fidget and squirm, impatient for their 20-minutes of running, skipping, chasing, racing, tetherball, basketball and four square.

    But school staffers say play isn’t always safe or fun. Some students get left out. At other times, playground fun creates chaos and fights.

    Last week, nine schools in the Portland area focused on ways to make recess more structured through a free pilot program. Each school worked with a “recess coach” from the national nonprofit Sports4Kids. The coaches organized games during elementary and middle school recess and taught classroom games to students and teachers.

    — Excerpt from The Oregonian, April 6, 2009


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