When “Tag” Crosses The Line

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.



13 thoughts on “When “Tag” Crosses The Line

  1. Sometimes I’m a little categorical in my life’s decisions. But if my kids went to such a school, I would remove them. I expect them to fight and get hurt – and get over it. I expect them to be bullied and learn from it. What is the alternative? Should parents send their kids to sanitized bully and punch up classes?

    • The “adults” in this particular school district are for the most part very right wing. Aldergrove is 50 miles or so outside Vancouver in a rural “bible belt” Not saying that has much to do with it but I’m at a loss for a rational explanation.:)

  2. The sad thing is that they are missing out on a wonderful opportunity to coach children in handling problems while they interact with others. This is the time to wean them off tattling on someone and learning how to take the first steps in resolving problems on their own. A time where kids find their voice when someone does something they don’t like and to learn the steps needed to handle someone who ignores them when they say, “stop” or, “I don’t like that”. And every once in a while I had the opportunity to observe another student really being mean and purposefully antagonizing or pushing another, only to be clobbered for doing so…and deservedly so.

    Can’t hold hands…where is the love? Affection is forbidden?

    No games? Just because the grown ups have forgotten how to have fun, doesn’t mean that they have to take that away from the kids…MEAN grown ups!

    Too many injuries…where the hell is the SUPERVISION. Anyone with any sense, can see when things are going to get out of control and redirect the activity. Why isn’t that administrator out watching the way recess is handled…then and only then will she be able to see that it is the adults in charge who need guidelines…not the kids. GRRRRRRR….

  3. I know the world is different today but I think we need to step back and learn from children. When young children play, they learn to negotiate, the rules they create include all the children involved, and they play hard. They fall down, get hurt, jump up, forgive, and continue playing. It doesn’t occur to them to sue someone or even carry a grudge – those are things children learn from adults. I think children are missing out when adults don’t allow them to use their imagination, to play hard because they might get hurt, and to hug a friend just because they like them.

  4. A true story…

    My father used to be in the RAF and was stationed at a base called St. Athan in South Wales where I attended junior school for two years.

    During morning assembly we were informed that as it was raining the top field was out of bounds.
    Well, at lunch break it had stopped raining so seeing as kids are kids we rationalized that as it had stopped raining we could play.

    A mammoth game of British Bulldog was organised.
    One has to run between two points without being tagged. Last man standing sort of thing.

    So there were half dozen ”taggers” and the whole of the 3rd grade as ”runners”
    Imagine what the field looked like after break?
    The game never reached a conclusion as we were hailed off the field within 20 minutes by several whistle-blowing, irate teachers and a couple of Dinner Ladies.

    For the remainder of the Lunch Break all the kids involved lined the passage leading to the Headmasters office where we each received a slippering! (Size 10 black Plimsol)

    Was the best lunch break I ever remember.

  5. Agreed. Like you said, kids need time to sort things out for them selves. They need to learn that they can sort things out and build confidence in their own gut feelings about right and wrong. Why do adults feel they need to interfer in normal childhood behavior? Kids have been doing this for eons. Not that everything humans have done for ever is right and good, but childs play for the most part is.

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