Return to Strategies for RECESS in Schools
Communicate and Enforce Behavioral
and Safety Expectations
Using rules, protocols, and expectations during recess helps ensure that students behave better, know how to deal with conflict, and are safe during recess. Establishing safety and behavioral expectations that everyone understands will create a safe environment for all students.
7. Establish and communicate behavior management strategies.
Schools can support positive behaviors by teaching and reinforcing rules, protocols, and expectations for recess, as well as the consequences for not following them.2,26
Schools should communicate rules, protocols, and expectations to students, school staff, and parents to ensure that everyone receives the same information. These strategies can align with existing schoolwide behavioral initiatives, such as positive behavioral interventions and supports, that can improve social and emotional development and affect overall academic achievement.
8. Teach conflict resolution skills.
Teaching students how to prevent or handle conflicts can promote positive behavior.9,17,18,27
Students can learn a variety of conflict resolution strategies to use during recess.9
These social skills can be taught in the classroom and reinforced by teachers or volunteers during recess.
9. Ensure that recess spaces and facilities meet recommended safety standards.
The majority of elementary schools (97%) have playground facilities and equipment. However, only 49% of them use the safety checklist and equipment guidelines published by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission in the Public Playground Safety Handbook.28
Similarly, only 49% of schools with playground facilities and equipment post rules for the safe use of specific types of equipment.28
To ensure that students are safe, schools can establish a routine process for checking recess spaces and facilities and confirming that they meet recommended safety standards.2,28
Schools also need to communicate safety expectations to staff and students during recess by posting in all physical activity areas and on play structures.
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