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Grade school replaces rowdy recess with structured play

The playground at South Point Elementary East Grand Forks is a bit more orderly these days, after school officials decided that there was too much rowdiness at recess and directed the students to play organized games.

Now the kids play kickball and other playground games, said the Fargo Forum.

And it seems to be working. So far, only four students have been sent to the principal’s office for recess-related problems. Last year at this time, there’d been 52 recess incidents.

“We just didn’t like what we were seeing, and it was the same kids engaged in the same things and the same kids getting hurt,’ said principal Suraya Driscoll. “It was time for something different.”

To solve the problem, the paper said:

Driscoll did research on what the school could do, and found the book “6-Steps to a Trouble-free Playground.” The book’s plan, with the principles of responsibility, intrinsic motivation and inclusion, seemed like a good starting point.

Faculty members started slowly, and began implementing the plan at the end of September. This newer take on recess puts the focus of behavior on the students themselves — each day, the kids self-evaluate if they were acceptable, unacceptable or outstanding.

That teaches problem-solving and has a better effect on their behavior, Driscoll said. “Kids prefer that to being punished and threatened. It comes from within, and they figure it out.”

Staff and parents like it, but do the kids? They told the paper they do:

[Fifth grader] Alexis Gordon said the changes have even made recess a safer time. “We used to play this bumper game on the slide, and everybody would just get tackled,” she said. “Since I’m so little, I would end up on the bottom, and I would get hurt.”

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Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Annalise Cudahy on 10/22/2009 - 02:13 pm.

    How wonderful it is to prepare these kids for the world they will inherit as adults by removing the burden of being creative from them!

  2. Submitted by Karen Sandness on 10/22/2009 - 08:25 pm.

    There are just a few troublemakers so ALL the kids have to be regimented? That’s a typical ACA (a**-covering administrator) reaction.

    When I was in grade school, we jumped rope and climbed on the jungle gym, and sometimes the girls just sat on top of the monkey bars and talked. When there was snow, we played a simplified version of soccer with only two rules: 1) No touching the ball with your hands, and 2) Kick in the right direction. When there was no snow, we played hopscotch.

    Being forced to play organized games would have made me *hate* recess, an amazing feat.

  3. Submitted by Beryl John-Knudson on 10/23/2009 - 08:28 am.

    No more free-range recess?

    Not exactly merry-go-round meritocracy but something may be lost here in the need for regulated, programmed ‘free time’?

    …and recess is to be followed by truth sessions…self-evaluation, peer evaluation encouraged by counselors I assume?

    Now that should be a learning experience for everybody. Call it ‘quality time’…time to define one’s self worth, or condemnation; or just a time for condemnation of one’s peers?

    Wow, that should be a great fun…who wins, who loses with such a competitive evaluation starting in grade school, in a world where competition is the prefered hallmark?

    Dogpile in rhetoric, kids, what you can’t do on the playground, eh?

    Why not start with adults first before “let-Mikey-try-it”. Try the plan out on Congress for starters; during their Recess time; plus before and after…So at random, take Senator Klobuchar…

    Congressional Counselor: “So how did you play at recess time today…no fighting, no feuding, no inapproprite behavior; no positive action…and tell us about your peers?”

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