When I was growing up in California, recess was my favorite part of the school day. It was unstructured play time where we could choose our favorite activities and burn calories while running, jumping, playing kickball… whatever we wanted.
In fact, if there had been advanced placement recess, I’d have been in it!
Those early years on the playground helped me burn off excitement, make friends and discover more and more activities that I loved, including football.
My sons, Marvin III, who is 5, and Mareon, who will be 3 in October, remind me everyday that to be a kid is to be active. They want to play and they want to run. All I have to do is give them opportunities to be kids.
Here are some simple, recess-inspired ideas that I use to keep my boys active at home:
- We run plays. Between our two boys, their friends and my wife and I, we have a mini football team out in the yard. We’re catching, we’re hiking the ball, we’re running for touchdowns, M3 is dropping Mareon to the grass, the crowd is cheering! They even do some of their daddy’s touchdown celebrations! It’s exciting. They’re having a great time and getting exercise and we’re spending time together as a family. You can easily set up plays for your kids, and definitely invite the neighborhood kids to join in the fun. My sons have been doing cones and ladder drills since the first time they started walking!
- 40 yard dashes. This true test of fitness on the football field and is a great way to get kids running. Set up ‘goals’ for the kids to get them motivated. Tell them that the first one to the driveway and back wins, or the first to tag the basketball pole wins. It gets them sprinting and competitive, and it also gives them the chance to see how much faster they can get. Try timing them once at the beginning of summer and again at the end of summer.
- Hoops. I had the pleasure of coaching 4 and 5 year-olds, including my son Marvin, in basketball at the YMCA in Burlington this spring, and talk about crazy fun. The kids were pumped just to get the ball in their hands. Shooting, dribbling, passing the ball to one another – they couldn’t get enough. Their excited high-fives and made baskets had me more excited than they were, I think. Even if you don’t have a basketball hoop at home, you can still pass and dribble with your kids. But try getting out to a local park for some shots this summer. Your kids will love it.
- Red Light, Green Light. This is such a simple game that our kids have so much fun with. Have your kids line up opposite of you. When you shout ‘green light,’ have them walk or run to you. When you shout ‘red light,’ have them freeze where they are. The freezing part cracks my kids up. They try to stop running mid-step and almost always end up in hilarious freeze poses. My wife and I also trade off letting them take turns shouting ‘red light, green light.’ They love having this ‘official’ red light, green light power.
- Tag. Old school tag is pretty much the best thing ever. Some of my favorite memories are of serious tag games growing up, when all the neighbors would get together and play. Regular tag, freeze tag, tag with a homebase or a ‘free’ area where you can’t be “It,” they’re all favorites at our house. Between the running, chasing and fresh air, it doesn’t get any more fun for the kids, and us too.
And if you’d like to test out some of these ideas and a whole lot more at the Bengals stadium, you should join us for Recess in the Stadium!
This year’s event is taking place on Saturday, June 7 from 9 a.m. to noon. And everyone is invited! You can register by going to the website.
Recess in the Stadium is a free event at Paul Brown Stadium to get school-age children and their families active and show them that health and fitness is fun. Sponsored by the Bengals, the Heart Institute at Cincinnati Children’s and the American Heart Association, the event features all kinds of recess-inspired activity stations, health information and simple playground enjoyment, including:
- Activities on the Bengals playing field
- A photo station where kids can get their picture taken with Who Dey
- Health screenings for kids and adults
- Basketball, tennis and jump rope
- Cheering and dancing with the Ben-Gals
I hope you can make it on June 7 and show off your moves!