Volunteer at Recess/Lunch

Please note: Because MCPS does not currently allow on-site volunteers during the school day due to COVID-19 risk, recess volunteers are not requested at this time.

Our goal is to have 2 volunteers during each lunch and each recess period every single day to help our students on the playground for outdoor recess days, in the classroom for indoor recess days, and in the cafeteria.

You may choose how long, how often, and where you wish to help out. Please note that committing to a recurring schedule is encouraged (e.g., every Monday, or the first Wednesday of every month all year long, etc.).

The following provides background on Recess/Lunch and the roles and responsibilities of volunteers at Bells Mill. Please review this material and follow up with the contacts listed below if you have any questions.

Required Training

You will need to complete this short online training for volunteers before your first volunteer shift:


All volunteers must complete the MCPS training “Recognizing Child Abuse and Neglect” that is found on the MCPS website. It must be completed every 3 years in order to volunteer in the school.

After completing the online training, send a copy of your confirmation to Mrs. Marcoux (Rose_M_Mckee@mcpsmd.org) to keep on file. Or you may bring a copy to the office.

Sign up to volunteer during the 2019 – 2020 School Year

Please consider volunteering your time during your child’s lunch and or recess slot. Sign up here — https://www.signupgenius.com/go/805084ea8ad23aa8-bells

Lunch/Recess Schedule

Grade Lunch Outdoor Recess
3 11:20 – 11:50 11:50 – 12:30
5 11:40 – 12:10 12:10-12:50
K 12:00 – 12:30 12:30 – 1:10
4 and Autism 12:20 – 12:50 12:50-1:30
1 12:40 – 1:10 1:10 – 1:50
2 1: 15 – 1:45 1:45 – 2:25


There is no recess on:

  • Early release
  • Delayed openings
  • Half days

Half day lunch schedule:

  • Grades K/1, 11:25-11:55 (no recess)
  • Grades 2/3, 12:00-12:30 (no recess)
  • Grades 4/5, 12:35-1:05 (no recess)

Expectations for Volunteers

What you should expect volunteering:

  • Plan to arrive 5 minutes before lunch/recess shift.
  • Please bring in your Identification (driver’s license).
  • Please sign in immediately upon entering the school building and wear your volunteer badge at all times while in the school for the safety and security of our students (Ms. McKee in the main office can assist you in signing in.)

Weather and school delays/ closings can impact how the school manages recess:

  • Students will have recess outdoors unless it is raining or the temperature/wind chill is below 32 degrees.
  • Students should dress appropriately for the weather and respond promptly to directions given by recess aides, teachers, or other staff members.
  • All students are expected to go outside on “outdoor recess” days.
  • During inclement weather, students will have recess indoors.

Please make note of weather in case there is indoor recess:

  • Call the main office at (240) 740-0480 to check
  • Check https://weather.com
  • Please note that there is no specific weather policy. Each school makes an assessment based on temp, wind chill factor, condition of play surfaces and weather forecast.

Staff (Aides) Responsibilities


  • Safety and behavioral
  • Assisting children who need help opening cartons, packages, or containers.


  • Safety and behavioral
  • Bringing out equipment.
  • Making sure each grade is provided with “fun bins” (double receptacles that are on a dolly and recess cart).
  • (A copy of “Playground Supervision Recess Procedures for Playground Aides” is available for reference in the front office)

What is expected of lunch volunteers?

Lunch volunteers provide additional assistance to school staff with monitoring the cafeteria.

  • Circulate throughout the cafeteria to assist students who raise their hands for help.
  • Children may need help opening cartons, packages, or containers.
  • There should be cafeteria supplies (spoons, forks, knives, napkins, ketchup etc.) to the right of the kitchen.
  • Encourage children to keep eating.
  • Children must remain seated unless given permission to leave their seats.
  • Restrooms may be used with permission, allowing only 2 children at a time.
  • Remind children to pick up any trash that falls on the floor.
  • When staff members indicate it is time, encourage students to throw away their trash and line up.

What is expected of recess volunteers?

  • Recess volunteers help monitor recess for safe play and provide extra support to Bells Mill staff.
  • Volunteers are not expected to address behavior issues on the playground, but can help children find a staff member or teacher if a situation arises.
  • Children may go to the lavatory with permission.
  • Children may go to the nurse’s office and may be accompanied by a responsible peer.
  • Remind children to put away equipment when the dismissal whistle is blown.
  • Help staff members gather children when it is time for them to line up for dismissal from recess.
  • With Primary Grades – Please lead children to play age appropriate games (e.g. Duck-Duck- Goose and Snake in the Grass). Many children at this age find it difficult to initiate games on their own and do not know the rules of many games. Your support will enhance their playtime!
  • With ball games (primarily older children) it is extremely helpful to have a volunteer serve as a referee for ball games such as, soccer, basketball, and kickball. Our children can become quite competitive and also have difficultly interpreting the set rules in a fair manner. Children often need to be reminded to use an appropriate level of competitive spirit which is consistent with recess.
  • This is a time for fun and play! Above all have a safe and fun time!

Recess Routines


  • Each grade is on a weekly rotation for area coverage (basketball court, field OR blacktop 1, black top 2, playground)
  • Aides will direct students to which areas they can play in.
  • Students will line up at the end of each recess period. Dismissal: Whistle is blown 3 min before dismissal. That is enough time for children to clean up equipment and line up.
  • Students will line up at the end of each recess period.
  • Aides dismiss students to their teachers to enter the building.

Recess equipment that needs volunteer instruction and/or supervision at all times:

  • Volunteers have the option of bringing out special equipment (Located in the PTA closet)
  • Item(s) must be returned at the end of their shift. Here are some examples: Bubbles (yay!) Nets (score!) Soft Frisbees (whee!) Radio (oh yeah!)
  • Soccer games are banned unless two volunteers can set up a game, organize teams, maintain/manage the game.   If there are no volunteers, the kids are allowed to work on skills but not competitively.
  • *Please keep the recess shelves and equipment organized. We share this space with others (e.g., PTA, custodial staff)

Parents and grandparents interested in signing up should use the online SignUp Genius www.signupgenius.com/go/805084ea8ad23aa8-bells

Thank you for helping us make recess a safe and fun experience!

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers:

Q: Who can I contact on the PTA with questions or concerns about Recess/Lunch at Bells Mill?

A: You can contact anybody from the Recess/Lunch and Volunteer committees. We are a dedicated group of parents and would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Q: Some children seem unable to find something fun to do during recess. Are there games or activities volunteers can suggest to those children looking for something to do?

A: Mr. Tom will teach each grade appropriate recess games. Also, the Recess Committee is working on obtaining descriptions and rules of well-known childrenʼs games. These descriptions will be made available for volunteers when they sign in. Volunteers may use these ideas to help children think of things to do on the playground.

Q: When volunteering for lunch and recess, where should volunteers go first, should they check in with the aides, is there a way to help children get more involved in playing with other children, etc. How will these questions get answered?

A: Volunteers should first sign in at the office when arriving at school. Next, they should go to the cafeteria. Volunteers should introduce themselves to at least one of the aides and ask what type of help is needed. For recess, if a volunteer wants to be with his/her child, let the aides know where the child will be playing. If the child moves, tell the aide that you are moving locations so the aides are able to ensure monitoring in all areas.

Q: There seems to be an unending need for parent volunteers to help cover lunch and recess. Why arenʼt teachers available to watch the children, at least during recess?

A: MCPS teachers belong to a union and, under the union rules, are not required to provide coverage for lunch and recess, so it is up to the parents to provide the extra coverage for lunch and recess. By volunteering, parents provide additional adult supervision of the children, which is particularly helpful during recess when the children tend to go all over the fields and play areas. By reducing the adult to child ratio, we can ensure that the children are receiving the adult supervision they need.

Q: Do I have to make a regular volunteer commitment? My schedule only allows me to volunteer on an occasional basis.

A: We encourage volunteers to make a regular commitment, whether itʼs weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. This helps us to better manage the schedule to ensure every lunch period is adequately covered. However, if you canʼt make a regular commitment, ad hoc volunteers (and even last-minute volunteers) are also needed to help fill in gaps in the schedule.

Q: How many volunteers are needed for each grade? Do we have enough volunteers providing coverage? A: The goal is to have two to three parent volunteers every day for each grade, with more if possible for Kindergarten. With fewer volunteers, the ratio of children to adults increases and results in each adult being responsible for more children. This can be particularly challenging during recess when the children from one grade are permitted to play on the upper and lower playgrounds.

Q: During indoor recess, are there certain rules the students must follow (e.g., computer time is permitted; the children are not allowed to write on the White Board, etc.)? A: Every teacher will develop/ revisit a list of Indoor Recess Class Rules that applies to their particular classroom. Feel free to ask the teacher what the rules for indoor recess for their class might be.

Q: Are there specific rules about bathroom usage, such as how many students may go at one time?

A: The children are encouraged to use the bathroom before the lunch and recess break. No more than two children per gender should be permitted to use the restroom at the same time. During recess, students must enter the building through the doors on the basketball courts to use the bathroom or for fountain breaks.

Q: What should a volunteer do if he/she witnesses inappropriate behavior by a student during lunch or recess?

A: Depending on the circumstances and the severity of the situation, the volunteer should consider reporting the incident to a staff member – please contact a lunch/recess aide if you would like something conveyed to a studentʼs teacher.

Q: How do I volunteer?

A: You can sign up on https://www.signupgenius.com/go/805084ea8ad23aa8-bells  or contact the Chair of the Recess/ Lunch or Volunteer Committee and inquire about signing up for open time slots. See their contact information above.

Q: Can I donate items for recess?

A: Yes! Please donate your gently used board games, puzzles, any kind of building toys (magna tiles, legos, blocks), marbles, art supplies, play doh, coloring books, sidewalk chalk, basketballs, soccer balls, jump ropes and hula hoops to Bells Mill for the children to use during indoor/outdoor recess. Just bring your donations, throughout the year, to the box in the front office marked Recess Donations. We appreciate it!

Q: Does PTA support recess in other ways?

A: The Bells Mill PTA creates a budget each year on indoor and outdoor equipment and games for our students.

Q: What else can I do?

A: Volunteering your time and/or donating indoor/outdoor equipment goes a long way. Also, asking specific questions can give you insight into your childʼs day. For example: “who did you sit next to at lunch?”, “who did you play with at recess?” The more feedback Recess/Lunch committee gets the more positive change we can make. If you have questions about volunteering and/or what you can donate and how, reach out to anyone on the Recess/Lunch committee.