Step onto the school playground at Pinehurst Elementary School (PES) and you will be greeted by the sounds of laughter, cooperative play, and cheering. Listen carefully and you might hear a good natured game of Rock-Paper-Scissors. Vibrant colors, a wide assortment of games, and active play brightens the smiles of both young and old.
Welcome to the Peaceful Playgrounds Project! Jointly funded by the Moore County Education Foundation and the Pinehurst Elementary PTA, this school playground program is an innovative addition to our school. In conjunction with We Count and Fundamental Movement, the Peaceful Playgrounds project, provides opportunities for heightened physical activity, developmental exercises, synergy with classroom curriculum, and “real time” conflict resolution skills development.
School playgrounds are great fun but they can also be a place of conflict. These conflicts often spill over into the classroom where valuable teaching time is lost while sorting through the problem and assisting students in seeking resolution.
The Peaceful Playground offers several options to handle the conflicts immediately as they occur:
Students are taught WALK-TALK-ROCK. They are encouraged to TALK about the problem and come to some agreement. When tempers flare, students must sometimes WALK away from the problem until they are calm enough to talk. In this scenario, students are encouraged to choose another game option. Most often, students have learned to play ROCK-PAPER-SCISSORS to resolve those playground problems related to who goes first, who violated a rule, what game to play, etc.
It’s wonderful to hear the sound of Rock-Paper-Scissors as you step onto the playground.
“You can’t say, you can’t play.” Many school playground arguments and hurt feelings are the result of children being excluded from play. The program philosophy is that all children can participate in any game being played. PES students are learning that it is not acceptable to exclude someone from a game. When personal equipment is brought to school, generally only certain students are allowed to play the game. In this light, students have been asked to leave their own sports equipment at home. Our playground now has more than ample equipment (balls, Frisbees, bean bags, hula hoops, scoops, jump ropes) to accommodate all children.
The Peaceful Playgrounds provides colorful markings to remind students that fun activities abound. Students no longer stand around trying to figure out what to do. With so many options, physical activity has increased dramatically. Students are spread over a greater area and conflicts are inherently reduced.
When teasing & name calling occur, students must sit out of the play area until they work out the problem. It’s amazing how quickly students are able to find solutions and settle differences so that they can return to play!
We have already noticed a decrease in conflicts and hurt feelings.
Students are learning assertiveness skills to handle bullying behavior. Bullies (those who boss, threaten, exclude, demonstrate aggressiveness, etc.) are found on every playground. Students have every right to feel safe at school and they have a responsibility to tell a bully to leave them alone. Bystanders are also responsible for standing up for others when they are bullied. If the bully continues the behavior, students are responsible for reporting the problem to a teacher.
The Peaceful Playgrounds program has been implemented school wide. Staff & faculty have received training to learn the games and to ensure that playground rules are enforced consistently. Kindergarten through 5th grade students all play by the same rules for each game, eliminating arguments over game violations.
Being able to play cooperatively empowers children and teaches them to work cooperatively both in and out of the classroom.
Through classroom guidance, students have learned (and most can recite) the “rules of the road” promoted by Peaceful Playgrounds:
- We value – Fair Play.
- We support – You can’t say, you can’t play.
- We use – Walk-Talk-Rock.
- We agree to – Play By The Rules.
- We know – Bullies are cruel and bystanders rule.
- We pledge – To Promote Peace On The Playground!
Check out our playground photos & take a look at us then & now. But we Aren’t Finished Yet! Still to come is the US Map Stencil (35’x38′) that will be painted after the first of the year. This will be a wonderful teaching tool for our social studies classes. Volunteers are needed to paint that rascal! Throw down bases for kickball and “softball” (played without a bat) are going down. The maintenance department is removing the old fitness stations , making room for the new volleyball court. Tetherball will be put up in January.
Many, many thanks to the Moore County Education Foundation, the Pinehurst Elementary School PTA, and to Sara Bigley, Principal, and our wonderful painters for their enormous support of this project!
Pinehurst Elementary School Playground
Pinehurst Elementary Playground Photo Album
By Debbie Spurlin, School Counselor Pinehurst, NC