Okay - time to get serious about this playground thing. After thinking about it, researching it and reading a lot of http://www.peacefulplaygrounds.com/ and countless state regulations I have put together a short summary of what I think is the problem and what could be some solutions. I have put a call in to the Head of the ECS school and left a message. I hope I can get an audience with her soon.

Here is what I have so far...

Limited room - Too many children out for recess at a time.Limited structure activities (four square, hopscotch...etc).
Limited resources: 100 kids for 30 minutes with only 4 swings 1 tire swing... no balls, one small basketball hoop (no basketball).
Lack of adult intervention when children behave aggressively, participate in unsafe play, bullying and other undesirable behavior.
Lack of follow-through on reports of playground aggression and bullying.
No definition of bully behavior for ECS children.
Limited communication or coordination between recess supervisors about children’s behavior at recess.
Proper use of equipment is not explained or enforced.
Vague wording in playground rules.
Lack of conflict resolution training.
Not enough space for play (multiple picnic tables on site).

Children were:
Pushing and shoving each other – pulling at classmates shirts and pulling them to the ground
Too close together – running into each other sometimes on purpose other times on accident
Multiple children trying to climb up the structure on top of each other
Climbing over each other, toppling down on each other on the slide. Sliding down head first, running back up on top of other children trying to slide down.
Using the hula hoops as pulleys to drag classmates around.

Create a galloping track.
Provide jump ropes, hula hoops etc.
Encourage competitive AND cooperative games such as Red Rover and freeze tag.
Provide a ball wall and balls
Provide a safe and separate climbing space
Provide a sand box
Use the whistle to interrupt inappropriate behavior.
Stagger the classes
Proper training of staff to spot unsafe play, enforce rules and recognize bullying situations.

Allow children to settle disputes.
Teach children to resolve most conflicts without adult intervention, using the "walk, talk or rock" method -- walk away from a dispute, talk it out, or settle it by playing "rock, paper, scissors."

Use of clear concise wording of rules that everyone learns the rules together... at the same time at the beginning of the year. Such as: no sitting atop or hanging upside down on the monkey bars, tag or chase is not allowed on or around the big toy and the slide is a one way slide, DOWN.

Allow the children to help make the rules. This gives children ownership and responsibility for behavior on the playground.
Make no more than five rules for the whole school for school aged children. Make no more than three rules for the whole school for preschool children.

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