Monday and Tuesday last week were long days. Both teachers and students felt the effects of two days of rain and indoor recess. As I wandered the halls, I saw plenty of evidence that the boys could easily find ways of entertaining themselves indoors. Some were building elaborate Lego creations, some enjoying a quiet time to draw or read, and many were engaging in some type of competitive game. A rogue group of fifth grader boys made their way out into the hall concealing a soccer ball. It wasn’t long before the activity became a bit too animated for inside play! Respectfully, the boys settled for just talking and joking around.
Cold winter days on the horizon remind me how easy it is to take for granted the endless days of warm fall weather that is typical of Maryland. With the exception of rain, our boys bound outside for recess without a thought about weather from September through December. Most have one objective in mind- run! Last week was a reminder of how much our outside time means to these young guys. Teachers remarked with great frequency that learning is impacted with no outside play. Monday and Tuesday may not have been our most productive days!
Last year, as we worked on a new schedule for Lower School, one priority dominated our plans- increase the recesses from one to two per day. This did not come without some sacrifice, but teachers are always willing to adjust their curriculum for the benefit of the boys. No one disputed the value of recess- time for free play, socialization, and brain-breaks. Recently, Dr. Webster was at a function, and when it was discovered that he was the Gilman Lower School Head the listener remarked, “you are the school that went to two recesses each day for your students!” He was both surprised and proud. Research backs up the fact that students need time “learning” and time spent “off learning” to be successful. I look forward to watching how this “plays out” here at Gilman!
PE at Gilman is considered an important core subject. It ties in to our motto of “Mind, Body, and Spirit” written on many a wall and document. Here in the lower school, our four PE teachers have developed a program that takes into account the developmental needs of each age boy. Cheri McElroy works on building stamina and skills in the Kindergarten PE program. The boys challenge themselves with running, jump roping, skipping, and more. In our Prep One to grade five program, boys continue to work on basic skills and building stamina, however more emphasis is placed on sportsmanship and listening skills. The PE “coaches” introduce units of focus depending on the season- soccer, basketball, volleyball, etc. and taught specific lessons on technique. The boys are given opportunities to practice skills individually, in pairs, and finally in a game format. Often the PE class will focus on team building. The boys will be asked to work together to build strategies for success in the game. I have observed many PE classes over the years and marvel at the creative ideas and expertise of our group of coaches. Enjoy a few pictures of the team in action below.