Playfighting in the playground, what's the rule at your school?

(36 Posts)
Nottigermum Fri 05-Oct-12 14:03:21

Just asking, really, there's a lot of playfighting in the playground at DSs' school and a friend of mine and a friend of mine just told me that at their school, they have a very clear, very well communicated and managed 'absolutely no playfighting' policy and playfighting is managed like other behaviour issues. The school has an anti-bullying and behaviour policy, but no specific playground policy. I just re-read it and there is no mention of playfighting and no specific rules about the playground. There are rules such as 'Be kind to one another' but nothing specific to playfighting. How is it at your school? Thanks!

DeWe Fri 05-Oct-12 14:12:14

Infants it is allowed. Personally, although my ds loves it, I would like to see it totally ruled out. His discussions of lunch sometimes go along the lines of "I was play fighting with A and B. C thought we really were fighting and hit B to stop it. So A hit C, and D and E saw us fighting so leapt on top to help... hmm

I think this is an exaggeration, and they get into trouble for it, but he'd probably happily play football if play fighting was banned. Which exercises him without getting him over excited.

I see huge advantages with pretend gun play at that point because at least there's no physical touching or even "nearly" hitting, but that is frowned upon instead. grin

bowerbird Fri 05-Oct-12 14:15:19

It's banned at our school, which I think is ridiculous. Playfighting is just that. Play. Fighting. Nothing to do with bullying.

LeMousquetaireAnonyme Fri 05-Oct-12 14:20:14

DD1 Y3 has just received a disciplinary report for "hitting and kicking", turns out she is "just" trying to kiss and does play fight with the boys, she has not actually hit or kicked anybody (I guess they aren't any disciplinary report for intents), so it is taken very seriously.

dikkertjedap Fri 05-Oct-12 16:21:53

Totally banned, which is clearly communicated right from the start to all groups.

Nottigermum Fri 05-Oct-12 16:58:59

Next question I suppose, do you think it should be 'banned'?

rabbitstew Fri 05-Oct-12 17:16:03

Do you ban it outside of school???? I don't really like the idea of banning normal play behaviour before it has caused any issues, I think it comes dangerously close to protecting the adults rather than being for the benefit of all the children.

coldcupoftea Fri 05-Oct-12 17:19:36

Not banned at our school, all my year 3s are constantly playing some kind of zombie game where they pretend to fight each other. I try to discourage it when I'm on playground duty, but it's not banned.

Nottigermum Fri 05-Oct-12 17:38:51

The thing is, it does get out of hand. Some of the children are actually hiding so that they can play their quiet games without being chased around and pushed to playfight. DS came back home after school yesterday with a red mark on his cheek and I oculd clearly see that it was a handmark, he said he was fighting with so and so and the other boy smacked him. Children get hurt regularly in the playground because of playfighting that gets out of hand. The thing is, I know it's normal play behaviour, but it can easily escalate and some children clearly don't know when to stop. But I don't want to suggest it or discuss it with the school without knowing what other parents think about it and I don't want to talk about with parents from school as it could be a bit 'gossipy' iyswim.

Fairenuff Fri 05-Oct-12 18:02:02

Playfighting is not allowed at our school. If they do playfight the children are given a gentle reminder. If they continue and someone gets hurt they are told that this is what happens if you playfight. When games get too rough it's time to change the game.

We try to teach them to moderate their own behaviour and realise that there can be painful consequences to playfighting.

If they still persist, they would be asked to sit out for a couple of minutes and rethink their attitude towards safe play.

Panzee Fri 05-Oct-12 18:03:40

Officially banned, but I allow it as long as I am there supervising. I'll help them move safely, say no kicking, nothing on the neck or head, etc.

RaisinBoys Fri 05-Oct-12 18:19:43

Not allowed at all in DS school now...too many kicks and wrestling moves & some children really do not know their own strength!

rabbitstew Fri 05-Oct-12 18:28:14

If you feel it is getting out of control, then tell the school you think so and why and tell them you think their behaviour policy ought to have specific reference to expected behaviour at playtimes - I think that is only reasonable. No need for the policy to refer specifically to "playfighting", but it could refer to physical assault or games deemed dangerous, to enable a certain degree of discretion as to what is deemed acceptable and what crosses over the line????

Euphemia France Fri 05-Oct-12 18:32:18

Banned, as it inevitably leads to someone getting hurt.

clam Fri 05-Oct-12 19:01:59

"Playfighting is just that. Play. Fighting."

Er, no it isn't. Because it never stays at the "play" stage. It always, but ALWAYS, ends up with someone going too far and hurting someone else.

I speak with 27 years' experience of primary school teaching.

Euphemia France Fri 05-Oct-12 19:03:02

Hear, hear, Clam.

Nottigermum Fri 05-Oct-12 19:04:50

There is no policy for playtime, and there's nothing specific about playtime in the behaviour policy. Would it be reasonable of me to try and speak to the school about having a section about expected behaviour in the playground? I don't want to approach the school the wrong way, I just want to improve things.

UniS Fri 05-Oct-12 20:22:17

Not "allowed" at playtime... but it still happens. Staff try to keep a lid on it and calm it down. every now n then a bunch of kids get hauled over to Heads office for fighting, then it calms down for a few days.
It is hard to work out where the line should be drawn. Is it "play " or "fight" can take a few minutes watching to work out.

bowerbird Fri 05-Oct-12 20:26:56

I have to disagree with you Clam. I hate all this wrapping our kids in cotton wool. There is risk in play and there should be. Children learn to assess and deal with risk, and as much as parents would like to, it's wrong to protect them from everything,.

The real risk is we're raising a bunch of delicate doilies.

Euphemia France Fri 05-Oct-12 20:29:14

Parents can expose their kids to as much physical risk as they like; no way is that appropriate at school.

clam Fri 05-Oct-12 20:31:50

It's not about wrapping them in cotton wool. Show me a tree and I'll send my kids up it.
It's more to do with a massive amount of time being wasted spent over the years on post mortems as to who did what to whom and who started it and how "it was only pretend" and so on.
And frankly, allowing a "game" whereby one kid can aim a kick or punch at another with the bloody stupid hope that it'll stop short of its pretend target is crazy.

bowerbird Fri 05-Oct-12 20:32:10

Why Euphemia? Serious question. Why not?

Are there no risks taken at school, ever?

Eggrules Fri 05-Oct-12 20:34:35

Discouraged at home and at school.

It starts off as play and can easily go to far and end up with kids hitting each other. My DS can't help taking it too far and that isn't appropriate full stop. I fear for YOUR precious dollies and so tell him it isn't allowed. I am happy for school to do the same.

Euphemia France Fri 05-Oct-12 20:37:26

They can take risks in the gym hall while supervised by a teacher. In the playground there are a few support staff watching over two hundred children - totally different.

bowerbird Fri 05-Oct-12 20:40:13

Egg, it's DOILIES, not Dollies.

TheBuskersDog Netherlands Fri 05-Oct-12 20:44:07

bowerbird, what risk do you want to see, the child who understands perfectly how to pretend to punch/kick someone Batman style without contact risking being hurt by the child who will throw him to the ground, sit on him and punch him and then claim "I was just playing."

Chunkamatic Fri 05-Oct-12 20:47:54

I have banned play fighting at home recently for exactly the reason that it never ends well. The whole premise of fighting being a game is stupid.... I don't understand why you would want to encourage it?

My DS's are both physical boys, so we do rough and tumble games...roliing around, tickling etc, and I feel that is a valid and important way to play but don't nderstand why "fighting" of any description is encouraged?

If I've missed something I'm happy to be enlightened....

dikkertjedap Fri 05-Oct-12 20:59:36

I think life in school is very different now compared with the past.

At least in state schools. Classes are big, virtually without exception. Curriculum is very full and demanding. A lot is expected from children from a very young age. A significant proportion of children have chaotic home lives and this creates further issues at school.

For many children life at school is not easy. Making friends can be hard, bullying is often an issue, expectations may be set too low or too high, etc. etc. etc.

rabbitstew Fri 05-Oct-12 21:24:51

And just how easy is it to tell the difference between a game of "playfighting" and playing that turns physically vicious? I'd be less bothered by two boys pretending to shoot each other in the playground or pretending to be marshall arts experts without actually touching each other than I would by a game of chase getting over-excited and someone ramming into someone else or grabbing hold of their collar and practically strangling them to stop them, or knocking them over and sitting on them to catch them... I think actually using the word "playfighting" in a policy is therefore silly, if what you actually don't like is aggressive physical contact of any sort, however it started. And I wouldn't ban all chasing games, just because they frequently end up with children hitting each other and getting upset, either... nor would I ban all skipping ropes because children can hurt each other with them without meaning to... And there is no more bullying today than there ever was: playtime has always been the most dangerous part of the day in school when bullying and physical violence are least well controlled.

BoysBoysBoysAndMe Fri 05-Oct-12 21:31:15

I think if its isn't banned in schools there needs to be enough staff to moniter it.

Ds1 play fights and he's just started in y1.

Although I can explain he's not to be too rough, grab anyone by the neck, kick or punch anyone on the floor etc - play fighting I would intervene with if I was there- it's very difficult for a 5 year old to judge what is going to hurt another person.

And they get so carried away with it all.

Generally I don't mind it, if I can supervise it or know someone else is supervising it-but I try to discourage ds1 from doing it.

I don't want him hurting someone and don't want him being hurt, though I accept most boys at some point will play fight.

yellowsun Fri 05-Oct-12 22:22:01

The trouble with play fighting is that it can seem just a game for some, and real to others. Play fighting is banned at my school yet I still spend a great deal of my time dealing with the fall out when it goes too far. Children get upset, hurt and it interferes with lesson time trying to sort out who started it.

Of course teachers/school staff treat their own children differently in terms of risk taking.

Fairenuff Sat 06-Oct-12 10:47:39

I don't think school is the place for risk taking. I think that is a decision that can only be made by individual parents outside of school and the responsibility for any consequences such as broken bones, etc. lies with them.

I try to minimise risk as much as I can at school. It should be as safe an environment as possible imo. We don't want children getting hurt if it can be avoided.

Eggrules Sat 06-Oct-12 10:53:00

bowerbird - I stand corrected. grin I fear for doilies AND dollies.

In my experience, it always starts out well; without fail someone will connect and that can sometimes start real fighting - even if that is play at first.

My DS can go from playing nicely to bottle of pop in about 3 seconds. He started a play karate fight (no contact was made) at a birthday party a few weeks ago and a little girl punched him in the eye. He felt it was totally unprovoked but I could tell from her face she was really shocked.

EverybodysCryEyed Sat 06-Oct-12 10:57:47

My ds ha a problem in reception because one boy always wanted to play fight with him. The problem was that ds just saw it as fighting anD didn't want to do it! The teacher had to get involved because it got to the point that ds felt bullied and the other boy was misunderstood really.

They now get on well once ds understood the other boy actually really liked him, he just didn't know how to play any other way

Eggrules Sat 06-Oct-12 11:40:32

That could be my boy EverybodysCryEyed. He doesn't understand why boys want to play football instead of Power Rangers/Clone Troppers/etc. At school he has been asked not to make guns out of Lego.

UniS Sat 06-Oct-12 21:28:03

You can "ban " it all you like but in reality in the heat of the playground... some kids are going to play games that get out of hand on occasion.
Like it or not primary age children play fast running games, games for chase and capture and pretend games that investigate conflict...

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