The teacher in me always asks kids, “What is your favorite subject in school?” All over the world, to date, the majority of kids say, “lunch and recess.”
Here is what we have learned from a year of spending a great deal of time at lunch and recess:
- Sharing food makes everything taste better.
- If you rush through lunch, you will miss rhythm that only comes from eating together.
- If you make your own fun, others will join in.
- Sometimes people who bully or cheat, need a friend more than a win.
- Not everyone wants to be team captain.
- The weather has no impact on the amount of fun to be had.
- Everyone wants to play, some people just don’t know how.
- If you swing to high to fast, the ride is bumpy.
- Sometimes capture the flag turns tribal. Remember it is just a game and it all returns to neutral territory when the bell rings.
- Tag is sometimes a way to touch someone you love, briefly.
- Rules are subjective and sometimes when you think people are breaking them, they actually play by a different set. Instead of policing, listen and maybe your game will change for the better.
- The anticipation of recess, while eating lunch, sparks conversation.
- Why walk when you can run?
- It takes courage to include others in your game.
- Everyone makes choices they are not proud of on the playground. The good news is, there is another chance tomorrow, to do things differently.
- If you climb up higher than you can jump, you need to be ready to raise the bar.
- There are other alternatives to dividing and conquering besides picking teams.
- Quiet time is productive.
- Your first friend and your first love are hardly ever your last.
Everyone smiles when they say “lunch and recess” because they know its not the answer adults want to hear. Why not? Don’t we all feel better when we feel nourished and topped off with chocolate milk, connected with nature and good friends? It is even easier to handle the bullies and the falls from the monkey bars, when so much fresh air, fun and sawdust are swirling.
When I really think about my adult life, so many of my successes and failures have been tied to my savvy during lunch meetings and my finesse, or lack thereof, in playground politics. Yes, the math facts and vocabulary come in handy, but real business happens connecting in powerful ways over lunch while discussing the great game of business.
Maybe our kids are onto something and their answer is not flippant. Perhaps more time at the table sharing meals, and an abundance unstructured playtime to figure out who they are, is exactly what they need for success now and in the future.