Can a Game of Tag Combat Bullying? Recess Coaches Help Show Kids How ‘Playworks’
Editor’s Note: This post is part of an ongoing series that will highlight the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s work in Latino communities across the country.
While many schools are trying to find the best ways to combat bullying, one program has shown promising success. Playworks is a national nonprofit that provides coaches to lead healthy recess and other playtime in diverse schools in 23 cities.
During a recent evaluation of the program, researchers found that investing in school recess and organized play can prevent bullying, improve how students act during recess and how ready they are for class, and provide more time for teaching and learning.
“Our research shows that Playworks makes a difference. Teachers in Playworks schools reported less bullying and exclusionary behavior during recess relative to control school teachers,” said Dr. Susanne James-Burdumy, associate director of research at Mathematica. “Playworks also facilitated students’ transitions back to classroom learning.”
In addition, researchers concluded that Playworks improves the school climate through:
- Better Recess Behavior and Readiness for Class: Teachers at Playworks schools tended to report better student behavior at recess and readiness for class than teachers at control schools, and they were more likely to report that their students enjoyed adult-organized recess activities.
- More Time for Teaching and Learning: Teachers in Playworks schools reported having fewer difficulties and spending significantly less time transitioning to learning activities after recess than teachers in control schools. Playworks students were also more likely than control students to report better behavior and attention in class after sports, games and play.
- Safer Schools: Teachers in Playworks schools perceived that students felt safer and more included at recess, compared to teachers in control schools.
- Satisfied Teachers: Nearly 100 percent of teachers in Playworks schools reported that they wanted the program in their school again the following year.
This new research, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, contributes to a growing body of evidence that a safe, healthy recess environment can contribute to better behavior and learning in schools.
“For our education system to succeed, our schools need to be able to create the conditions for learning,” said Jill Vialet, CEO and founder of Playworks. “The good news is that we’ve developed a model that can be replicated almost anywhere and produces positive and measurable results.”
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