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Structured Lunchtime Play...Your thoughts please....

(22 Posts)
mumto3boysHE Thu 16-Jun-11 14:56:46

Hello everyone?

Has anyone come across ?structured activities? during lunchtime at primary school? My DS? school has just introduced this & it?s causing a lot of bad feeling.

I intend to email the school with my thoughts (they have had loads of complaints already) but am struggling to put something together. Can you help me please?

They have put the children into mixed age groups (some from each year, infants to year 6) & each group is offered a variety of planned activities and games. They are listing the benefits as older kids being positive role models, breaking down age divisions, encouraging boys & girls to play together, reducing incidental injuries, developing social skills in a practical way. In order to cater for everyone, some of the choices include library games & IT.

Each group is supervised by a dinner lady who has been trained. It all sounds great?.

I have some problems with this system:

Whilst they have tried to keep friends together, my DS is now only allowed to play with 3 of his friends (he is in year 5 & has had friends since reception that he now cannot play with)

The year 6 kids in each group seem to decide which game is being played each day, it is not democratically agreed

My DS (& lots of others, by the sounds of it) does not want to play with ?little kids?. He wants to run around & play football (football is not available)

The big problem is?. There is NO opt out option. Every child is included in a group, whether they want to be or not. They have to stay in their group. They have to do whatever the game is that day, (so it could be dodgeball when all they want to do is sit & chat).

I appreciate that the system is new & will need fine-tuning. I also love the idea of lots of activities going on at lunchtime. I realise that not everyone wants to play football.

But this very structured timetable of activities with no opt-out, during the children?s free time, their only free time, seems wrong.

What does everyone else think?

mumto3boysHE Thu 16-Jun-11 14:59:20

oooh, lots of question marks in funny places in my OP. It didn't look like that when I previewed it. Sorry everyone....

bumpybecky Thu 16-Jun-11 15:04:22

I've never heard of this before. I think if it were running one or maybe two lunchtimes a week, it would be a good thing. I can see the benefits of getting the year groups to mix a bit more and do activities they wouldn't normally do at lunchtimes.

However I'd really object if my child was being made to sit down and play on a computer at lunch when all they really wanted to do was charge about the field in the sunshine.

Every day seems far too much. They should be allowed free play more days than structured play IMO

catchingzeds Thu 16-Jun-11 15:05:10

Lunchtime play should be free time in my opinion. My sons school does this but it is optional which I think is fine, some children don't enjoy playtimes after all.
I would complain too.

cybbo Thu 16-Jun-11 15:06:26

Sounds like a PE lesson to me

Let the children run around, find little worms to make nests for and play imaginatively

it sounds like a TERRIBLE idea to me

meditrina Thu 16-Jun-11 15:07:25

Do they do this every day?

Because if so, it does sound OTT - not least because they're not really getting a break.

If it's once (or maybe twice) a week, it sounds like a good idea though.

messybessie Thu 16-Jun-11 15:09:24

This has been introduced at our (infant) school. They were having a lot of problems with lunchtime incidences and certain children getting into trouble, carried away. Some rough behaviour from certain groups.

It was introduced to give them some more structured activities (rather than just wrestling eachother to the floor) and to encourage a rather dominant group of boys (and one of girls) to mix with others instead.

So far it seems to be working well. A bit unfair on those children who have always played nicely but probably better for everyone in the long run.

lostinpants Thu 16-Jun-11 15:23:42

Playtime should be free time.
Organised play should be optional.
If some children are disruptive then they should be organised, not inflict it on all the others.
My DC would go ballistic if they had to do this every day

mumto3boysHE Thu 16-Jun-11 17:35:27

Yep, this is every lunchtime, no choice. I agree the disruptive children should be sorted out. If they misbehave they should lose their playtime. But it seems that the whole school is being punished. It is so unfair on those who are well behaved....

madwomanintheattic Thu 16-Jun-11 17:39:16

is this 'positive playgrounds'?

it isn't punishment - it's just introducing kids to different options if so. at the start it's quite formal, as they rotate around the different stuff (some of it is old style playground games), but it just tail off and become a voluntary thing later (with obviously the aim that children will opt in rather than out, because it's fun...)

here there are parent volunteers who are trained, and also the older kids, who run each 'stand'.

(am loving the idea that forcing the kids to play is unfair though grin) they still get morning and afternoon play as free time, right?

bumpybecky Thu 16-Jun-11 17:42:27

it is unfair though if they are being forced to play games they don't want to play with children they don't want to play with....

mumto3boysHE Thu 16-Jun-11 17:48:39

madwomanintheattic - it might be positive playgrounds. I didn't say it was punishment. I think giving lots of activities is a great idea. It's the compulsory bit I don't like. The school gave no notice or explanation of what they were going to do, or why. They also haven't said it might tail off & become voluntary....

My son is not happy because he's not allowed to play with all of his friends...that might change as the system changes, I don't know

(they only get morning playtime at our school - no afternoon play - it is still free time though smile

madwomanintheattic Thu 16-Jun-11 18:26:37

just curious - it's taken about a year to implement here, and has involved lots of fundraising for new equipment (which will obviously be available for free play too). lots of letters home introducing the scheme and what it's for etc. maybe just an implementation/ communication glitch?

i'm not a particular fan btw - it's just another new scheme <i say 'new', new here anyway.> have seen several come and go in a few schools...

i quite liked 'activate' though. <muses>

(you didn't say it was punishment, but you did say it was like the whole school was being punished... i know you were talking about it being inresponse to unruly behaviour, but i just thought being punished by being forced to play was faintly amusing... sorry, didn't mean to offend)

Hulababy Thu 16-Jun-11 18:40:39

I work in an infant school and would oppose such a scheme I think. I do't like the idea of it at all. Children should be free to chose their play time activities and their friends.

I have no problem with the activtties - but could they not be voluntary for whoever wants to do them?

Children at this age need to be running round letting off steam. Not havug even more structured activities.

EllenJaneisnotmyname Thu 16-Jun-11 18:49:37

For my children, personally I would find such a scheme a real benefit, on maybe 2 days a week, with free play for the other 3 days. None of my boys like football and with a class full of keen footballers they have become quite isolated. Structured play like this, balanced with adequate chill out time would be ideal. I don't like the 5 days a week aspect as it gives the children no choice, but if it was completely optional the footie boys would still not do it.

toutlemonde Thu 16-Jun-11 18:59:28

They have this at DS' primary school - its a terrible idea I think, the kids never get to let off steam, relax, do what they want. May mean less problems at break time, but I bet it also means more problems in the afternoon as the children haven't had a real break all day.

The school has a small outdoor space which I suspect is part of the attraction of all this structure.

emptyshell Thu 16-Jun-11 19:50:42

We used to have "playground game of the week" where we'd pick a traditional playground game and the dinner ladies would teach it to children who wanted to play (we did use stickers as a carrot) in the hope of widening the repertoire of games played beyond such classics as "run around and grab the hood on your mate's brand new winter coat so his mum's going to go ballistic" or "chuck the ball on the school roof and see if it rolls off this time" which worked fairly well in that we did see the games reappearing in later weeks at the kids' own volition.

I've also seen schools do a heavy lot of lunchtime clubs to cut down on the disruptiveness - things like playdough club, lego club and the like - open to all, but with the kids who found the lack of lunchtime structure hard to cope with being strongly encouraged to go along to them - again, that worked fairly well as well (was staffed by TA hours I believe but I was only doing supply there so not 100% on that one).

I know that footie tends to take over the whole playground given half the chance - so there needs to be some reining in of stuff, even if it's just coning off an area for it (and the same to stop me being clotheslined by skipping ropes please) but the OP seems a bit TOO much like a formal lesson to me!

nicespam Thu 16-Jun-11 19:51:58

it's been proven that free lunchtime play increased concentration for learning in the afternoon, so there should be hardly any constraints on their free time to play - it's mad that some schools can't see it

bebanjo Thu 16-Jun-11 20:38:35

I think some heads need to have a word with an educational psychologist,
it has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that children need free play. In today's world where many children are rushed from one organized activity to another by well meaning parents, you'd think that school would let the kids have what they need.
Apart from which, kids today are finding it increasingly difficult to amuse themselves, why, cause they never get the practice.

mumto3boysHE Thu 16-Jun-11 20:39:02

madwomanintheattic (great name smile) you didn't offend smile We have had no letters about it at all - that's part of the problem...communication? What's that? confused

EllenJaneisnotmyname - I agree, 1 or 2 days a week, with the other 3 free play. Or, better still, have the activities every day but let the kids join the ones they want to, with the people they want to play with... smile

emptyshell - game of the week would work well, as would the lunchtime clubs - this school does neither sad I know footie can take over the playground but this school has a good sized playground plus a huuuge field. There really is enough space for everyone

The only good thing at the moment about this is that is has got all the kids & parents discussing it, albeit negatively. There are so may letters being written in to the school - at least there is communication going one way. grin

mumto3boysHE Thu 16-Jun-11 20:40:06

ooops, sorry - should read There are so many letters...

mumto3boysHE Thu 16-Jun-11 20:42:36

Oh, and have just heard from another mum....one of the children set up a petition yesterday about this system (obviously negative - but don't know the details of it).....

...the teachers took it off him! shock sad

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