Playworks recess turns playtime into life lessons

Playworks is a new way of doing recess that's getting rave reviews from parents and teachers.

It's recess with a purpose and it's turning playtime into life lessons.

Students at Village Oaks Elementary are learning how to be civil to each other and to never leave anyone out of the mix.  It's part of a program called Playworks that being implemented in recess here and dozens of other schools in Michigan. 

Playworks deploys coaches like Patrice Wright into schools. She then teaches kids how to be civil yet competitive. Here's an example.  Remember Rock Paper Scissors? There's a variation used here.  
"One of our catchphrases is 'good job, nice try'" Wright said.
The program translates into harmony in other parts of the school day by making conflict and how kids deal with it something to think about and not just react to.  

"You go to Coach P and you tell her the problem. She helps you and then she tells you to play games with them and you get to have fun all together in the group," said student Indius Eddington.

The lessons carry over into all aspects of their lives. 

"We are bringing purpose to recess. We are fully maximizing that 20 to 30 minutes they have out here to cultivate their physical, social and emotional health and maximize their time and then to take those skills and let that carry-on back into the classroom and then hopefully back home," said Abe Alcodray, Playworks regional partnership director.

Teachers and administrations have seen a huge difference. What happens in recess doesn't stay in recess.  

"They're involved in cooperative play. They have leadership roles. Everyone is included and everybody is important," said teacher Jen Smith.

Dr Alex Ofili of Village Oaks Elementary says he notices that kids are problem-solving on their own.

"I see that they're utilizing some of the language they they learned from Coach P when they go back into the classroom and I see a transition from students that didn't know how to work with one another, they're now at the point where they're able to do things on their own," he said.