Playground Rules for Elementary Schools
Professor completes second study on playground strategies
Most people who walk past a playground at a park or elementary school think about how adorable all the children are. One of the McKay School’s professors thinks, instead, about different strategies to help the children enjoy the playground as a positive social experience.
Michelle Marchant, associate professor in the Department of Counseling Psychology & Special Education, has studied specific strategies for reducing the aggression that takes place on the playground. Her research, recently published in the Journal of Evidence Based Practices for Schools, is titled “A Treatment Package for Reducing Aggression and Improving Playground Behavior.”
People may show interest in the “playground strategies” publication because of their personal connections with children in elementary schools. Marchant indicates that the playground is a difficult place to conduct research because it is a non-classroom setting with minimal control. The playground is not a typical instructional environment. Its primary purpose is designed for kids to have fun and get their wiggles out.
Research with behavioral rules and consequences recommends that it is essential to pay close attention to developing rules that are positively worded, simple, measurable, friendly, and short. The following are often recommended:
- Follow the rules of the game.
- Let everyone play.
- Keep hands and feet to yourself.
- Use kind words.
Marchant said, “As time goes on behavior is getting worse, so something needs to be changed.” Playground misbehavior is often an outgrowth of inadequate supervision and structure. A school specifically asked Marchant and her team to research playground strategies.
Marchant has completed two studies on playground behavior. Her first study focused on internalizing behavior, which is behavior internal to the individual, such as depression or social withdrawal. Her more recent study concentrated on externalizing behavior, which is behavior that acts out such as pushing, hitting, yelling, or saying hurtful things. Marchant was excited that the research on playground strategies was something that the school needed, wanted, and requested and that benefits could be easily seen.
September 13, 2012