When I was in elementary school recess and lunch were full of adventure. This was when our imaginations ran wild; a time to learn valuable lessons in diplomacy, problem solving, and the law of gravity. Recess offered dangerous playground equipment, raucous games of capture the flag, dodge ball, and games pulled out of thin air. We skipped rope, dug holes, captured grasshoppers, played tag or whatever struck our fancy. This was a time for sorting things out, finding our limitations, or expanding our boundaries. Recess wasn’t “politically correct”, it didn’t have to be – we learned quickly what was and wasn’t acceptable.
Upon hearing of a recent decision by Coghlan Elementary in the Aldergrove school district, my jaw fell to the floor. Kindergarten students are banned from play fighting, holding hands, and tag. A letter was sent home to parents on Nov.5 outlining the “no touch” policy, and advising a zero tolerance position for children breaking the new rule. The school based their decision on several playground injuries resulting from rough play. Children who violate the edict will be removed from the playground and sent to the principal’s office.
Telling kindergarten children they can’t hold hands or play tag simply blows my pondering mind. Try as I might, I fail to come up with a positive outcome for such an outlandish “solution” to playground problems. Kids deserve free time to learn cause and effect, to experience interaction and gain the confidence that comes with playground dynamics. I can’t imagine children forced into a paranoid “no touching” recess. Children need guidance and boundaries, not bat shit banishments of natural behaviour. It takes the joy out of childhood – replacing it with fear and oppression. Shame on you Coghlan Elementary School for being fear mongers and dictators rather than role models and educators. You aren’t doing those kids any favours – life has to come with lessons, without them kids are lost. Yikes.