It was 102 at recess today. Although I appreciated the rain that August monsoons brought, I’m glad to be stepping into September. The rain brought plenty of humidity, and this has been exacerbated by extra hot days this past week. For outdoor play when the temperature is 100 to 109, our practice is to offer an indoor-outdoor option. At 110, we’re all indoors. Due to staffing needs, I’ve done quite a bit of playground duty this year. Usually it’s only one half-hour shift a day, but occasionally I land a double header. When we do have indoor-outdoor option, I almost always opt to stay outside. I prefer the wide open space to high energy activity in an enclosed area.
The majority of students prefer being indoors, playing games, drawing, or building with an array of materials when the temperature slides above 100. There are, however, a dozen or so children who consistently choose to stay outside. A few gravitate to the sand and water, which has a built-in cooling effect. That area has excellent shade, too, so there is consistently a crew splashing and digging rivers. Additionally, there’s normally a group riding bikes, which is also mostly in the shade. Some play under the solid shade of the ficus trees or along the fringe of the playground. And there are those who are apparently unfazed by the heat, running and doing cartwheels in the grass. We take frequent water breaks, and they continue to run around, dig, swing, and play.
It would be easier in some respects to just have everyone stay inside for recess until temperatures drop. Then I think of my own childhood and how we were outdoors in every season, regardless of heat or cold. I understand these children’s need for movement and freedom. As a child I found sitting at a school desk all day to be challenging at best. I, too, wanted to be outside playing in the dirt with water and sand. In a few weeks we’ll hopefully have a reprieve from the heat, as we move into fall. For now I will endure the heat for a few minutes a day, so this group can run wild, swing, and freely roam. Believe me, as a free range child, I do understand.