Peaceful Play Tips

Playworks designed an online toolkit, Recess Labs, for educators to use to improve their classroom and playground climate. Here are a few Recess Labs tips for better play:

1 Get adults in the game

Oftentimes adults see recess as a time for them to check out. But research shows that adult participation can strengthen rapport with the students and model behavior the students may not get to see at home.

Actively play games with the students, don’t just yell from the sidelines

Let kids see you make mistakes, it builds trust

Check in with kids on the sidelines who may be feeling excluded

Plan ahead to have a variety of games for kids with different skills and interests

Introduce games with a line, like foursquare, so other kids can feel they can jump in

Help the children to choose teams by using shoe colors or counting off, never with a “team captain”

2 Positive Language

Simple positive phrases like “you’re a natural,” and “nice try,” build an environment of acceptance and respect that can translate to the classroom.

Model positive language, and encourage children who have stepped out of their comfort zones

Acknowledge good behavior and affirm students who follow direction

Give lots of high fives

3 Conflict Resolution

Giving students the resources to solve conflicts on their own gives teaches them important skills, and gives them a sense of responsibility. Recess labs offers 4 different tools for conflict resolution.

Rock, Paper, Scissors, for intervening before small conflicts escalate

I-Messages, or I-statements, like “I feel __ when you __,” allow children to name their feelings instead of pointing fingers

Make a “Peace Path,” a visible path on a playground, or wall that allow children to walk through their feelings step by step.

Appoint student “Conflict Managers,” equipping the student’s peers to be classroom leaders so students can resolve issues without “tattling” to a teacher.