Creating an organized recess is one approach to ending bullying through playground games that is showing results.
One Bronx elementary school has brought in a “play coach” from Asphalt Green, a nonprofit group which organizes recess games such as relay races, jump rope, and dodge ball. The intent of principal Kevin Goodman was to find a positive way to curb fights and unruly behavior. After a short time, Goodman is seeing that the children show the ability to take turns, and are demonstrating greater patience and collaboration and sharing.
Last year, 34% of the teachers at P.S. 66 said that order and safety were maintained, a number significantly lower than the 82 percent citywide average recorded on the Department of Education School survey.
“So, far it seems to be working well,” said Goodman. “Last year there were pretty regular issues surfacing after lunch, making it tough for teachers to do their thing in the afternoon. Kids were arguing, fighting in certain instances. A lot of tears at the end of recess. The goal is to bring increased structure to the playground so that students have a more pleasant experience.”
Three new schools in The Bronx joined Asphalt Green’s “recess enhancement program” this year. Asphalt Green is a sport and fitness nonprofit based on the Upper East Side and Battery Park City. They created a structured recess program 15 years ago, and now have a curriculum of over 150 organized games, including indoor activities. Goodman wishes that the program could expand beyond two days a week.
A 2013 Hunter College study found that the program increases physical activity and reduces verbal aggression. Many principals say that it reduces overall bullying.