Unstructured Recess: One school's experience

Yesterday the top was Structured vs Unstructured recess. In 1998 I wrote an article called, Eliminate Recess. Let's Skip It! The complete article is available on our webpage. The following is an interview with the principal where the original Peaceful Playgrounds Program was implemented.

After the program was introduced at E. Hale Curran Elementary School in Murrieta, California, the results produced immediate and significant reductions in injuries, nurse referrals, and disciplinary referrals, despite large enrollment increases.

"When I came here I two years ago as assistant principal, I could see the difference immediately," says David Koltovich, now principal at E. Hale Curran Elementary. "I saw almost a total involvement in games. No groups of students were loitering about without anything to do. When kids go out to the playground, they know where they're going. They have favorite games, and they heard right for them. Ninety- five percent of the students are engaged in play, while the few other take time under the shade area to eat their snacks." So what's the secret of this successful program? Koltovich points out that the program has five main components:

* Organizing the playground area around game markings which disperse the children in organized activities.

* Teaching and practicing conflict resolution strategies which the students use to resolve their own interpersonal problems, freeing supervisors to supervise.

* Providing ample game opportunities and equipment so that children don't have to wait in line or compete for a playing spot.

* Providing consistent expectations through training all staff members in the school, not just the playground supervisors, in behavior rules and game rules. And then providing training and re-enforcement each year for staff and students. What principal wouldn't like to see an 86% drop in disciplinary referrals? Or better yet, how about an 83% drop in injuries on your playground? This is just one example of a school's commitment to making the playground a safe and peaceful place for children. Certainly there are many more.

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