Home-school recess returns to Paul Braxton Gym

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SILER CITY — It’ll soon be time for recess at Paul Braxton Gymnasium in Siler City, with the town’s Parks and Recreation department bringing back its Home-school Recess program starting Feb. 3.

Home-school families will be able to utilize the historic Paul Braxton Gym from 10 a.m. to noon on Thursday mornings at no charge so kids can have their own “recess” period — with the supervision of their caretakers — during their home-school days.

Some activities provided include basketball, frisbee throwing, a giant parachute and more. Families are also encouraged to bring whatever games or equipment they want to use from home, according to Parks and Recreation Administrative Support Specialist Daniel Spivey.

Spivey helped put together the original home-school recess program in early 2019 when parents approached his department with a request for indoor space in the colder months.

“We had some families contacting us, expressing the need for an indoor location during the winter months that families that home-school their children to be able to come and cut loose, play and have some fun,” Spivey said.

Spivey said the first winter of home-school recess was a success, and parents were excited to return the next year. But the COVID-19 pandemic forced the department to stop all of its programs and offerings — including Home-school Recess.

As the virus has continued to spread, several families have opted to take their children out of public school and put them in home-school programs. According to the 2020 U.S. Census Household Pulse Survey, the amount of households home-schooling their children more than doubled from 5.4% to 11.1% in the 2020-2021 school year.

Because of this increase in home-schooled households, Spivey said the recess period for them needed to make a return once it was safe enough to do so.

“It provides a great way for these families to connect with one another because they have something in common — they are home-schooling their children,” he said.

The home-school recess program is free of charge for families to bring their children to “cut loose and have fun,” according to Spivey. The only requirements to be able to participate is to sign in upon arrival and to wear a face mask at all times in the gym, per Siler City town facilities’ mask mandate.

Spivey said one of the major reasons for having the recess program is to allow for home-schooled children to have a space to connect with one another and have a space to play and socialize with each other.

“Socialization is one of the key components of this program because it brings them into a space where they are also getting to meet other people,” he said. “It definitely provides exercise and promotes health and wellness in our community and in these families.”

For Spivey, he still remembers playing in the jungle gym with his friends, connecting with them over a game of basketball or running around on the playground playing a game of tag. The home-school recess program will allow these home-school children to have the same heartwarming memories of recess and interacting with their friends.

“One of the best parts of the school day was always hearing the bell and getting to know that I am about to head out to the playground or play in the gym with my friends,” he said. “That was one of the best parts of my school day, and knowing that these kids are going to be able to grow up and remember coming to Paul Braxton Gym and cutting loose and having fun with friends or meeting new people, that’s what this is all about.”

The first home-school recess session will take place from 10 a.m. to noon on Thursday, Feb. 3, at Paul Braxton Gym, located at 115 S. 3rd Ave. in downtown Siler City. You can find more information on the Parks and Recreation website or by emailing the department at recreation@silercity.org.

Reporter Taylor Heeden can be reached at theeden@chathamnr.com.

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