View Full Version : Morbid Curiosity

08-12-2010, 04:37 PM
Out of morbid curiosity the child and I went to go spy on the middle school where he would be assigned if he were going to public school. We discovered that they don't have any sort of outdoor activity area for any kind of sports or exercise. Nothing at all. Is this normal?

I'm in the middle of the Bible Belt, but I went to middle school/jr. high on the east coast. My school had all sorts of outdoor activities and competition areas. Like track, for example.

(I also noted that they did a fair job of getting rid of any graffiti on their walls by going over them with fresh paint, except for one particular patch. It depicted President Obama and had the word "Fascism" written underneath it. It's a bit unsettling to find graffiti gone political on a school.)

08-12-2010, 05:26 PM
I worked at a small private middle school that didn't have an outdoor area and it was one of the worst problems we faced. I don't think I've ever seen a public middle school without at least a track and general use field. I could imagine if you lived in a very cold climate where most sports would have to be indoors, but in the bible belt? You can be outside in winter often. Seems strange to me.

08-12-2010, 05:28 PM
around here there are only 2 of I think 5 middle schools with anything :( it is sad!

08-12-2010, 05:33 PM
Heck the elementary schools barely have enough equipment most of the time..but hey with only 20 mins of recess I guess they don't need more.

Middle schools around here due have a track at least.

08-12-2010, 05:35 PM
The middle and high schools (both in the same building here) have no outdoor area at all, including no track or sports fields at all. We live in a small town, with a small school.

08-12-2010, 05:54 PM
I never took the time to have a look at the middle school until today. I'm just gobsmacked. One of my favorite things in the world was outdoor P.E. I always imagined myself to be some hot shot girl soccer player, or whatever else we were doing that day. These kids simply don't have that opportunity at all.

Anyway, with our homeschool, my son and I go out often. We ride our kick scooters or bike or whatever. I would have to say that I am even more thankful that we can do these things after seeing that place.

Edit...and baseball!!! There isn't even a baseball/softball field. (Sorry, I just keep thinking of what these kids don't have. It's just too odd, especially since they actually do have room for it.)

08-12-2010, 06:12 PM
I can't speak for middle schools specifically but in our county in Florida the elementary school children are not allowed recess anymore, not even the little first graders. I was told that the state mandates so many hours of instruction and preparation for the FCAT that there simply isn't time for the kids to go out and play. Some schools offer PE once or twice a week. I found this very upsetting and I said as much to the director with whom I was speaking. It's cruel to keep children in their desks for six hours a day. Add to this the homework that even first graders are given and it seems to me they have very little time for physical activity. I believe this is part of the reason for the epidemic of childhood obesity in this country. The kids aren't given the time or the opportunity to run and exercise enough.

08-12-2010, 07:10 PM
Wow these stories are shocking! I will say at least here the elementary schools do have recess, no matter how cold or snowy it is. They are given about 5-10 minutes to eat lunch (yeah, that was a major problem for us) and then they are shooed out the door even in the dead of winter. I think the cutoff temperature was something like -20C (yes, negative) unless it was sunny or not too windy. The kids would come inside frozen, but I guess at least they got to go out. The school had sleds and snowshoes the older kids could take out to play with--I did think that was pretty cool. But the kids would come in soaked with snow and the teachers were SO reluctant to allow them to get dry clothes on for the rest of the day because it "took too much time"...it was awful. Snow season is November through April, so it was no small matter, but maybe it was better than no recess at all.

08-12-2010, 08:03 PM
Wow, these stories are shocking. Every public school I ever went to had a gym where we took P.E. on cold days and also where we spent the rest of our lunch hour after eating (not to mention recesses). My daughter's school still has a huge gym where they go several times a day, as well as an extensive outdoor area. While I am not 100% sure about this, I do recall hearing that in Arkansas, the schools are actually wanting to add more physical activity and make it more mandatory, to combat the obesity rates. (They have already cracked down on the number of days in which school students can have parties with sweets.)

08-12-2010, 09:50 PM
The thing about the elementary schools doesn't surprise me. I read that blog Free Range Kids and she's always railing about things like this - about how there's no recess, or the kids aren't allowed outside unless it's perfectly sunny and 70 degrees because otherwise they might overheat or freeze in the totally acceptable temperatures. Sigh. I think middle schoolers really need recess too, but I know they don't get it. However, PE still exists, right? And sports programs, which are afterschool and voluntary. It really surprises me that a middle school wouldn't have a football field or at least a soccer field... Wow.

08-12-2010, 11:53 PM
The schools around here all have nice playground equipment ~ the elementary I went to 30 years ago didn't, just painted lines on cracked asphalt. Our area is massively suburban though, so the schools are fairly well funded and have very active parent groups who fundraise like maniacs. The high schools tend not to have large facilities at each school though, it's more that the district builds an activity complex that all the high schools share.

08-13-2010, 01:41 AM
I think it depends on where you live these days. Here in Germany the kids have plenty of equipment and fields (depending on the school, elementary, intermediate, middle or high) and they are outside even when it's cold! The only time they come in is if it's raining "too hard" or "too long." Snow? Outside. Unless it's dangerously cold. But our school in Tampa that DD attended for Kindergarten had some playground stuff. Not a lot, but it was there for the K-5 kids. It was also brand new. Next door was the new middle school with a wide open field until the track was finished. Not sure if the middle school kids get recess during lunch periods. But I know recess has been cut back there. At the elementary and intermediate schools here in Germany (a DoDDS school district) the kids absolutely have recess and they have no choice. But it's only after lunch. I suppose the teachers decide if they get "class" time for some extra outside time, like maybe if the kids are acting crazy or seem like they need run time. My kids get a couple of breaks and recess after lunch here at homeschool (name to be determined). And I make them go outside to jump on the trampoline. I just wish we could ride bikes or scooters on the streets here. Can't wait to move back home.

08-13-2010, 08:17 AM
The elementary schools here all have nice playgrounds, but the middle schools basically have an open field. Not that they use the open fields, but they are there. There are sports fields spread all over the county that they use for organized sports. When my son was in elementary the first thing they took away was recess if you got in trouble. I really had a problem with this. At the beginning of my son's fifth grade year, they got a new principal. She was my PE teacher in middle school. The last I heard she was trying to make the teachers stop taking away recess. She didn't realize how quickly they jumped to that punishment. When I was in middle school we used to play softball outside. We used the practice field that was behind the school. I don't think they do that anymore. It is really sad that they are doing away recess and PE here in Kentucky. I believe that this does contribute to the obesity rate, how could it not?!

Oh and another thing, why have a field day if there are no winners. This was one thing the principal started her first year. I mean the kids know that they didn't win, so why not give the winner a blue ribbon. They all got participation ribbons. I don't think my son would have won an event, but maybe if they were offering blue ribbons to brag about he might have tried a little harder. lol

08-13-2010, 09:24 AM
Times have changed, recess and PE were mandatory when I was a kid. Even in high school you had to take PE each year that you were there. Now kids are rarely out and moving let alone just out in fresh air. All this focus on healthy meals in schools is pointless if they don't make exercise a much higher priority than what it is now.

08-13-2010, 09:36 AM
I'm still just surprised by there not being any field. We do weekend kids soccer that's held at a middle school just across the city line in the suburbs here and it has two soccer fields, tennis courts, outdoor basketball courts and a football field. So it's not everywhere.

08-13-2010, 10:58 AM
The one child I have that does attend public school is my autistic spectrum daughter. Her teachers have made sure to let me know the last few years that if the weather is above 32 degrees, then the kids must by law have outside time to run and play, so to make sure that I send plenty of warm clothing for her on these days. (They don't go out if it is raining or storming.) Due to my dd asthma problems, which are exacerbated by cold weather, I have talked with her teachers and filled out the necessary medical forms to exempt her from going outside on cold days.

Callie, about your point regarding the ribbons given to all children that participate, my thought is that it is a nice gesture to try and make all children proud of their efforts, but I believe it would be better to give out the participation ribbons AND to give 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place ribbons for the winners. That way, everyone can share in the positive aspects of their efforts, and the winners can also be recognized (also that is more motivation for those who might not be inclined to try without a tangible symbol to earn). :)

08-13-2010, 05:58 PM
Callie, about your point regarding the ribbons given to all children that participate, my thought is that it is a nice gesture to try and make all children proud of their efforts, but I believe it would be better to give out the participation ribbons AND to give 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place ribbons for the winners. That way, everyone can share in the positive aspects of their efforts, and the winners can also be recognized (also that is more motivation for those who might not be inclined to try without a tangible symbol to earn). :)

Me too. When we had field days way back when I was in elementary school (lol) we all got participation ribbons regardless if we won or not. I just don't like them saying that there was not a winner. If there was not a winner, then there was not a race. It was just kids running, which should be a normal occurrence.

08-13-2010, 07:36 PM
Too funny, Callie "If there was not a winner, then there was not a race. It was just kids running..." Good point!! :)

08-16-2010, 03:08 AM
That was a big issue for me when my boys were in school.
The ISD's elm schools all have playgrounds and large-ish open areas for the kids to be outdoors and play. Some also have baseball diamonds set in, others don't. The middle schools almost all are very into football and basketball, so the gyms and fields are big enough to accommodate that. The high schools also are way into sports, so fields, track, tennis courts, large gyms - all are standard.

We also have several charter schools and private schools, and some are better equipped than others. The one my kids were at was a new school, placed in a re-modeled grocery store. They lack a gym and the first year, the kids had no playground or even a safe area to play outside in. The teachers did their best, but outside on asphalt with no shade is not doable for very long. The second year was better - thanks to generous donations of funds and time and labor by parents, the playground was built, boxed and filled with mulch and fenced in. The issue then became time on the playground. The admin wanted to restrict the elm students to 15 minutes per day - 15 minutes per day!! - parents revolted and got them to schedule recess for the littles at more reasonable times and intervals - but still, it wasn't enough for active kids (which is yet another of the many, many reasons why we homeschool) but that's another issue {wink} - I can't complain overmuch; the schools work with what they have available in most cases. It's the structure that's the problem. For the older kids, they were good about bringing the kids to parks and other venues for things like soccer and softball, but it was more of a special thing, not a daily one.

Moving on... for the most part here, the schools have adequate facilities to provide the kids with plenty of outdoor activity, but there are some who find it more challenging to provide.