Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Stories from the Playground

Stories From the Playground: An Introduction

Welcome to the first post in our blog series, Stories from the Playground a series of posts directly from the implementation of PA’s Peaceable Playgrounds model at several local schools.  My name is Suze Runnells and I am a Youth Specialist, Trainer and Consultant and have been working with PA for about ten years. I found the following article in the New York Times, and have shared my thoughts and reflections on the article as well as some thoughts on how to make recess successful playtime.

What is the quality of the recess experience at your school? Are students thriving at recess? Do staff feel comfortable managing recess? I work with elementary schools supporting them in creating positive school-wide culture. Many school communities are struggling with unstructured playtime. Recess is a perfect time for students to be active, get fresh air and practice skills they are learning about how to play with one another: In other words, unstructured play is valuable and critical to youth development.

What is the recipe for a successful recess? Students and staff need to know what to expect and what is expected of them. The following ingredients are helpful in co-creating a positive recess time that promotes students to build autonomy.
  1. Recess Guidelines: Clear and agreed upon norms of operation including how equipment is used, stored and cared for; which activities are to happen in which areas of the playground; grade specific guidelines; line up process, posted basic rules for games such as four square, consistent consequences for positive and negative behaviors, etc.
  2. Full Value Contract: Commitment from community members to 4-6 positive ways to treat one another. Discussed and defined by community and publicly displayed. A great place to introduce and practice the Full Value Contract is in Physical Education class using Project Adventure’s Adventure Curriculum for Physical Education. Example: Play Fair, Play Kind, Play Safe, Let go and move on and Fun for All (adapted from the curriculum).
  3. Skill Building for Staff and Students: Offer opportunities for staff and student development. Project Adventure’s Peaceable Playgrounds model offers training and consultation for staff to increase their skills in group management, leading cooperative games aimed at teaching students skills in how to play successfully together and guidance in creating opportunities for student leadership.
Click here for the New York Times article