I am worried. I’m beginning to believe that fun is leaking out of schools, and yet what motivates and attaches children to the school experience is fun.
Laughter motivates, energises and binds people.
I go out into playgrounds most days, as I have done for many years. Worst case scenario? Seeing midday supervisors standing in a circle chatting, lonely children on the edges of the playground, scores of children chasing around knocking each other out of the way, footballers getting wound up and cross, whilst play equipment is broken, misused or none existent. It’s not bad behaviour, it’s bored behaviour.
Over 35 years of education, I have collected, researched and trialled thousands of playground games. The issue for schools isn’t finding new games – it’s how to embed them, how to help midday supervisors engage with them, and how to ensure that we have a whole school approach to promoting fun and collaborative play. Lunchtimes are a passion of mine – if a child is not happy in the dining hall or playground, they’re not happy in school. Many children find lunchtimes challenging, particularly those with behavioural problems, so it’s imperative that schools take this issue seriously.
A robust Playground Games Policy can make all the difference to the emotional, creative and social wellbeing of everyone in the school. So make time to plan meetings with the SMT, midday supervisors and schools council, and put the action for happier playtimes, and calmer afternoons, at the top of the agenda. Here are my five tips to get you started - download the resource below: