Peaceful Playgrounds Eliminating Recess Conflicts

September 2009

By Ryan Dietz
WLUK-TV – Appleton, WI

Recess used to be just sliding and swinging at Johnston Elementary School in Appleton but overtime recess conflict grew.

Now a program to get more kids involved has them adding hopscotch, four-square, and jump rope to the mix.

“There’s like more games that you can play and more games that you can learn,” said Lexi Schroeder, a student at the school.

The program is called Peaceful Playground and more than 8,000 schools nationwide are using the program to teach kids how to solve recess conflict on the playground.

Peaceful Playgrounds Mac Arthur school

MacArthur School in Hoffman Estates is the third school in District 54 to implement the Peaceful Playground program, which provides colorful blacktop games that promote active, healthy play. (Kate Thayer/Tribune)

The idea is to teach kids common rules to more than 100 games so they don’t argue over who wins or loses. If there is a dispute, the judge isn’t a supervisor – its rock, paper, scissors.

“When kids all have the same set of rules and same set of expectations of how to play a game there isn’t very many opportunities for the kids to engage in recess conflict,” said Kathy Winn, a teacher at Johnston.

Parents at the school wanted to find a way to make better use of the playground, so they turned to Peaceful Playgrounds and received grants from the Appleton Education Foundation and the Johnston PTA to pay the $4,000 for the stencils, rules books, and other materials.

Volunteers at Johnston spent two weeks during the summer to paint games on the blacktop. Parents and teachers say the kids are really grasping the point of the program.

“With children taking more ownership over the playground and really taking ownership of problem solving and conflict resolution they feel better about themselves,” said Carmen Schipper, a parent who wrote the grant proposal.

Schipper said the volunteers still have some work to, and they plan to paint a map of the United States next.

WLUK-TV – Appleton School Solves Recess Conflicts

The Recess Advocacy Toolkit includes: parent letters, a powerpoint presentation, a meeting agenda, and advocacy guide for Saving School Recess. It can be download here : http://peacefulplaygrounds.com/right-to-recess-campaign/