by Emily Graham PTO Today Magazine
Recess is meant to be a break from the classroom, a time for making friends and make-believe. But in reality, recess often involves intense competition, playground bullying, and conflicts that carry over into the classroom. As enrollments have risen at elementary schools across the country, playgrounds have become crowded, increasing the risk of accidents and hot tempers sending children to the principal’s office.
Former teacher and elementary school principal Melinda Bossenmeyer launched Peaceful Playgrounds 15 years ago to address discipline problems and advance social and motor skills development. The Peaceful Playgrounds concept takes a resource most playgrounds already have—open space—and transforms blacktops and fields into play areas for different age groups with activities such as tetherball, wall ball, and Frisbee golf.
With more choices during recess, children are more likely to engage in physical activity. But the program is about more than playing hopscotch. Peaceful Playgrounds includes a component to teach children conflict resolution skills to reduce discipline problems. School staff members receive training and then teach students the new schoolwide rules.
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