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.