In a previous post, we discussed the importance of recess and playground zoning. In particular, how a well-designed playground can help children develop and grow far more effectively than a poorly designed space.
One of the most important spaces to consider while planning your outdoor recess space is the Social/Wellness Aids zone, since it’s a space specifically designed to create and foster social-emotional learning in young children. And let’s face it: social-emotional learning is incredibly important to our kids. A 2015 study published in the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH) found significant associations between social-emotional learning education in kindergarten and success later on in life.
But nowadays, more and more academic rigors are being placed on children in younger and younger age brackets than ever before. And unfortunately, recess has had to bear the brunt of the change. In an article from Daily Journal, Illinois kindergarten teacher Rose Bailey said, “There are greater academic and assessment demands placed on students more than ever before in my career, and schools are leaving social-emotional learning behind.”
And recess, of course, is an important place where social-emotional learning most strongly develops outside the careful watch of teachers and educators. When I was a kid, that space was on the basketball court, the kickball/soccer field, or the playground. For others, it was the swings or the blacktop.
For the most part, groups of kids tended to stick together, but not all had that luxury. I distinctly remember there were some kids that didn’t have a lot of friends and were unfortunately excluded from much of the group activities. It wasn’t that they were bullied or intentionally left out; they were shy and we, being kids, weren’t sure if they wanted to be left alone or just didn’t know how to ask. That’s where a custom stencil, like The Buddy Circle™, could have come into play.
The Buddy Circle™ is an innovative, custom-designed floor stencil from Fit and Fun Playscapes where a child who is feeling left out can go and stand, signaling to the other children on the playground that they’re feeling left out and are looking for a friend. Other children can then come over to the circle and invite the lonely child to play with them during recess, facilitating that ever-important aspect of social-emotional learning on the playground.
The Buddy Circle™ stencil is also flexible and easy to install and can be paired with other playground stencils to customize your own unique outdoor recess zone, like the Peace Path by Soul Shoppe or Yoga Poses. Or, why not combine the Buddy Circle with Fit and Fun Playscapes’ custom Community Togetherness stencil and the USA Map With Capitals and Oceans large stencil to foster inclusivity and global awareness during recess?
Some schools, like Kankakee School District 111 from the previously mentioned Daily Journal article, have used Fit and Fun Playscapes to help them make the most of a 2018 Communityworks Grant award of $4,200 for the Playgrounds with a Peaceful Purpose project. Among the custom stencils was a Buddy Circle, along with walking paths, four-square, and numerous other games from Fit and Fun’s wide collection.
Fit and Fun Playscapes is proud to work with Kankakee School District 111 to help them make the most of their outdoor playspace. Fit and Fun Playscapes will be continually developing new social-emotional learning tools over the next few months, and our commitment to providing opportunities for physical and social play for all kinds of kids has never been stronger.
This post was originally posted on 8/1/2018