Recess in Elementary School
Archived Q&A and Reviews
- Lunch recess - lack of supervision on bad weather days
- How to help my 7 y.o. self-regulate on playground
- First Grader's boredom during recess
We have yard duty staff for our public school. I found out today though, that on bad weather days students are sent back to their classes with 'check-ins' by the yard duty staff (3 or 4 adults per 225-250 students). The ratio is 1:70 or 1:80. Lunch period is roughly an hour, where the children eat their lunch in the multi-purpose room for 20-30 minutes, and then have recess time. My child is a first grader, and I wondered what other schools do on bad weather days for class supervision when teachers go on break? I am not in favor of children being left in unsupervised situations, and this seems dangerous to me. I'm looking for solutions that keep children safe. Thanks! Concerned Parent . . .
You are not alone in thinking this is extremely dangerous. I recently discovered that my child's elementary school has a similar policy, except that the kindergarten classes are "supervised" during indoor lunch recess by two fifth graders, with the paid recreational supervisors occasionally checking on the class.
I fully appreciate that teachers need a duty break for lunch (they deserve it), but why would the district risk leaving 25 kindergartners in a room with two unfamiliar 10-year olds? A child could easily wander away or be lured out of the classroom, there could be an earthquake or lockdown, and no one is available to enforce the school's no-bullying policies at a time when children are most vulnerable. At best, you have 25 kids going wild on a rainy day. At worst, it's a missing child.
Our elementary school has experienced at least two incidents during the past year requiring a police response to confront strange men found on campus during school hours. In one incident, the man was wearing a school sweatshirt, brought a video camera, and was attempting to film young girls on the blacktop. In the other, a different man was seen on campus studying the posted class lists, and then loitering right outside the school gates during recess. Neither man had children who attended the school. When you add in that public schools no longer require background checks for any class, field trip, or lunchtime volunteers (this was a recent amendment to the Education Code), it's a disaster waiting to happen. Even if the district is comfortable discounting safety concerns, you'd think they'd be concerned about the enormous lawsuit on the horizon.
I'm working on trying to change this at our school, and would appreciate if you would post again if your school comes up with a different solution. another concerned parent
Well first of all let me tell you how sorry I am that you are challenged with this. I am a teacher of 24 years (10 in public schools). You are right this is NOT safe & not the best situation for your child. Unfortunately, the schools hands may be tied budget wise from doing anything else. Volunteers might not be the answer due to liability. I recommend that you first take steps to ensure your Childs safety with KidPower.org self protection skills. You will feel much calmer & you'll know your child is safe in these kinds of situations. Changing the schools practice? Speak up with compassion as it may be difficult for them to do much more. I'm guessing lots of red tape & politics are involved. Good luck as I am an optimist, but I am no longer in the public school system as a teacher due to too many direct services being cut from our childrens lives. I think it is time for all parents (me included) to work together to bring back more programs for our children & safety is definitely one of them. Best of luck & you are great parent for recognizing an unsafe situation Concerned parent & educator
This is in response to a lack of disaster preparedness and supervision from a parent with the same concerns. The post requested information about any actions others take - here is what I have done. In my child's Berkeley public elementary school, there is no continuous adult supervision during rainy day lunch recesses, because teachers are at lunch. I initially raised this concern when my child was in K and got a unconcerned response from the responsible supervisor as well as the principal, who has since left. I am trying again, now, two years later, to express concern about this, because the ''practice'' continues. I am also addressing the lack of an adequate disaster preparedness plan at the school. I reviewed it at the office and it is shockingly inadequate, with numerous blank forms, etc., especially given that we are in earthquake country and the requirement to have a disaster preparedness plan with specified elements has been law for a decade. I have written an email to the new principal requesting a meeting and citing to relevant state education code laws that make it clear it is unlawful not to have a plan that provides for the continual safe supervision of students. See Cal. Ed. Code Sections 44814 and 32281-32289. I would like to hear what others have done who have similar concerns. I intend to follow this up -- and not by sitting as a volunteer at numerous safety committee meetings. I don't have the time, and the responsibility to make appropriate plans should not be placed on volunteers. We need school districts and schools to take full responsibility to make comprehensive plans for safe public schools. An alarmed parent
My son is 7 and in the 2nd grade. This school year, we've had several reports (already) about overly aggressive play on the playground. Finally, today, I got a call from the principal that my boy chased after a boy, grabbed him by the neck and wouldn't let go. He also left some scratch marks on the back of the boy's neck. When asked about it, he said that another boy told him to do it because he (the other boy) didn't like how the child was playing.
When asked the ''instigator'' said he only told my boy to chase the other boy. This all happened in the context of a chase game happening at recess. This is the second time my son has gotten so aggressive he hurt another kid at the request of someone else. There have been other incidences as well, where he hurt someone accidentally because he didn't know how to keep himself from getting over excited while playing. I have talked to him about putting himself in the shoes of the other boy before he reacts. It has always been clear that I will never find the excuse ''well, joe asked me to do it'' to be a reasonable excuse.
So... what now? I can't monitor him during school, he needs to be able to control himself. I tell him that he will lose his friends if he continues to be too rough. We have other consequences at home, too. What do I do? How do I motivate him? I really need some advice from folks who have been through it and come out the other side. Anon
I don't have a child who can't self-regulate, but my son's best friend has been that child. At the start of last year, when he met this boy in kindergarten, I was very hesitant about letting the friendship flourish because the boy could not control his impluses and overwhelmed my son physically sometimes and hurt him. However, his teacher, who is a goddess, encouraged me to let the friendship blossom, and I am glad I did, because the boy is so much better now and a great friend to my son. It took a lot of concentrated effort by his parents and this wonderful teacher, using gentle reinforcements, a series of ratings (he'd get a green or yellow star depending on how well he controlled himself) at both school and home, and constant vigilance, but it has paid off. He still has impulse control issues, but they are so much less. In addition, we have taught our son how to assert his boundaries and say ''no'' and it works well. You need to get your son's teacher and the school on board so they will work with your son and monitor him (not in a bad way). It needs to be constant, with every initiation of inappropriate behavior nipped in the bud before it gets to the actual hurt phase. Constant, constant, constant. Talk to his teacher. I hope she's as good as this kid's teacher was. Good luck.
Actions on the playground are hard to monitor, sometimes even when you are present, but there should be hard-line rules that never get crossed. We all know the rule about ''never running with scissors or holding a parent's hands when crossing the street (for really young children)'', these are all safety rules and on the playground, they can be ''safety rules as well.'' Maybe you and your son can come up with certain rules together. Start with, NO hands on someones face or neck. Even something as innocent as going up behind someone and covering their eyes to surprise them could lead to poking a finger in the eye and causing damage...so it's best to have certain ''hard-line'' rules. This is what we do with our boys and it works --even when they observe other children on the playground doing the contrary, they don't feed in. Good luck. Anon
Hi, I would like some advice on how to best help my son. He attends 1st grade at a small public school (less than 400 students). He used to claim recess was his favorite part of school and now he says he gets bored during recess. It appears that the friend he often played with is playing with someone else now. He has other friends and when I ask why he doesn't play with them he shrugs and says he has a hard time finding them during recess. When I help brainstorm what else he could do, he finds negative ''excuses'' for why he is not interested in any of the other possibilites. I am concerned that his lack of interest in participating will end up alienating him from his peers. I don't want to discuss this with him too much, for fear I'll add more negativity to the issue. Not sure how to help! anon
This is a good area to leave fully in your child's hands. It will not be so traumatic to cause lifelong esteem problems if he ''fails'' socially at recess. It is a good experience for him, to learn life does not always go one's way, so he can learn how to deal with that sort of thing [perhaps he will develop more social skills or seek out new friendships].
This is a good opportunity for YOU to learn that you cannot always fix things for him. It's a very small way for him to learn self-sufficiency. Perhaps he will get bored enough that he will be motivated to search out different kids to play with. These things have a way of working themselves out. Either way, it's his personal time to stretch and grow, even if he has to be bored while figuring it out.
I know it's painful to watch your child struggling with lack of friends, but it is really something they have to figure out, at least while at school. You can still arrange after-school playdates if you're that worried about it. Proponent of teaching Self-Sufficiency