It would be laughable if it weren't, you know, so bloody laughable. They put up structures not intended for younger children and now, you know, it must be a training issue. Totally.
I just want to hang with my kid a couple of recesses during the week. I'm happy to volunteer. But you can't volunteer to do it anymore. You must be a paid employee. [Hey, it about covers my Diet Coke intake each week.]
Here's the document they sent out to all of us. Lord knows, I don't know if I'll be able to actually review it so I don't expect you to read it.
SCHOOL PLAY STRUCTURE AND PLAYGROUND SAFETY GUIDELINES
Statistics show playgrounds as the most injury-intensive activity in primary schools, with up to 80% of all primary school injuries occurring on the playground. Accidents on and around the playground account for a statistically significant percentage (around 15% in many districts) of injuries to all children in school.
School injury data shows that the top five causes of injury on the playgrounds are as follows:
- Falls from equipment 25%
- Athletic participation (in a game) 17%
- Slip, trip, or fall 16%
- Struck against object 13%
- Struck by object 11%
- All others 18%
Duties of playground supervisors
One of the duties owed to students on the school playground is proper
supervision. The main purpose of supervision on the playground is to help
protect students from injury or diminish the risk of student injury.
Proper supervision has four basic components:
1. Presence and attentiveness:
Being on the playground before students start playing. Staying in a reasonable proximity to the areas of activity. Keeping all students easily in sight. (If one of the supervisors cannot see the students, the students are not being properly supervised.) Not becoming distracted from duties.
2. Student behavior monitoring and intervention:
Being knowledgeable of and consistently enforcing school rules and policies. Restricting students from roughhousing, horseplay or other inappropriate behavior on or near any apparatus. Controlling the play environment.
3. Hazard surveillance and intervention:
Being risk-conscious (prioritizing attention into the areas where accidents are most likely to occur). Checking the playground daily, and appropriately addressing ground and equipment hazards.
4. Responding appropriately to emergencies:
Handling emergencies that occur on the playground properly to reduce potential injury and damage. This involves being CPR/first aid certified, or having such a staff member readily accessible.
After the risks are identified, the supervisor can set supervision priorities
on the playground based on this risk ranking. This means monitoring the
areas with the highest and most severe risk of injury more closely. Have
- Put HIGH RISKS directly in front of the supervisor
High risk activities traditionally include climbers, slides, composite
[multi-function] play equipment, and high (over 7 feet) play
- Put LOW RISKS on the periphery (beside the supervisor)
Low risk activities traditionally include field sports and games and
- Put NO RISKS at the supervisor’s back
No risk activities traditionally include other games played on the
AND KEEP MOVING! Activities on the playground change constantly.
A supervisor can position him/herself, or arrange the activities on the
playground, to use supervision to the maximum; s/he can make informed
decisions about what s/he watches, how often, and when.
Controlling the play environment may involve:
- Decreasing the number of children in an area or on equipment
- Rearranging the games on a field
- Acting to help alter the behavior of children
Adequately addressing hazards:
- When a hazard arises (such as a broken piece of play equipment) that a
playground supervisor must deal with immediately, remember the
- Disable (take off the swing), immobilize (secure the merry-go-round
so it cannot spin), or make hazardous conditions inaccessible (by
warning cones and tape) – but be careful not to create a worse
hazard (like leaving an unguarded platform when a broken slide bed
- Warning signs are not enough of a deterrent since some students
cannot read them. Supervise more closely (stay near to) a hazardous area; this is effective only at times when the playground is supervised.
What’s enough supervision on the playground?
There has been much discussion in schools and in courts regarding how
many adult supervisors there should be on school playgrounds. Supervisor-to-
student ratios consider only the number of students present, which can
be misleading because there are several factors which determine adequate
To determine adequate supervision, conduct an evaluation using the
- The number of students (this may be different at different times)
- The ages of the students (younger children need closer supervision)
- The mental and physical capabilities of the students including discipline
- The configuration of the play area, including visibility and size
- The play equipment used and activities available
- The emergency procedures used on the playground
- The weather conditions
Establish the minimum number of playground supervisors needed for a
facility (or a supervisor-to-student ratio), taking into consideration the factors
previously noted. In most cases because of the size and configuration of
many playgrounds and the school’s emergency procedures, at least 3
adult supervisors should be on duty whenever the playground is in use during the school day.
Selecting, training, and equipping playground supervisors
Playground supervisor competency is an important factor to ensure good
supervision. Playground supervisors, including volunteers, should meet
selection criteria and be trained for their duties.
1. Selection criteria - the playground supervisor should:
a. Be physically able to do the job (walk around and see the whole
playground, climb, free a trapped child, intervene to stop a fight,
b. Have passed a criminal background check
c. Hold a currently valid CPR/first aid card (at least one supervisor on
each playground during each recess should be so certified)
d. Be able to work well with students
2. Initial Training - adults do not automatically have the skills necessary to appropriately supervise students at play on a school playground. In playground
supervisor training, include general playground supervision information, and information specific to the school at which they will supervise. Teach playground supervisors applicable school district policies and procedures and their duties and responsibilities.
Include the following basic information in the initial training session(s):
- General playground information should include:
- The causes of injuries on school playgrounds
- The requirements of the CPSC Handbook for playground
- The basics of how to inspect playground equipment
- How to identify, report and help protect students from hazards
on the playground
- How students should safely use play equipment
b. General supervision information:
- Understand the importance of playground supervision
- Be familiar with the school’s method of playground discipline
- Understand the difference between discipline and punishment
- Be able to enforce rules
- Know how to alter student’s behavior positively
- Understand diligence in monitoring the playground is essential
- Understand that location of the supervisor is very important
- That supervisors should have an unobstructed view of entire play area
- That supervisors should avoid standing together and chatting
c. School specific information should help the playground supervisor:
- Know the established playground rules
- Know what playground equipment is designed for younger students
- Know how to respond to various emergencies on the playground
- Know how to handle injuries on the playground
- Know procedures for visitors at the school
- Know the layout of the entire school grounds
- Be familiar with games used on the playgrounds and their rules
- Know the locations of first aid kits, telephones, fire extinguishers
- Know the locations of and the school nurse or designated emergency aide
- Know how to handle discipline problems
- Understand what his/her role is in a crisis (earthquake or other
- school emergency)
- Be able to correctly complete an incident report for an accident
3. Follow up training - conduct annual training with all playground supervisors. Design annual training to reinforce the initial training, update the supervisors as to any changes, and address specific playground problems and issues at the
4. Supplies and equipment - equip playground supervisors to do their job. Appropriate supplies and equipment may include:
- A whistle or other means of communicating with students quickly
- A clipboard, paper and pen
- A means of emergency communication with the office
- Minor first aid supplies, including protective gloves
5. Supervision of the playground supervisors - charge a knowledgeable administrator with training and overseeing playground supervisors.
Keenan has online training available. Administrators should evaluate playground supervisors periodically and analyze their effectiveness in that position.
The administrator charged with the management of the playground supervisors should periodically (quarterly is suggested) review student playground accident reports with their Loss Control Consultant to look for patterns of causes and initiate or ensure corrective action.
Establishing playground rules
One of the duties owed to students is proper school playground rules and
instruction in language that students understand as to:
· how to play on the playground equipment
· how to play games
· the playground rules
· the consequences for misbehavior
Establish and publish written playground rules that give students guidelines
for safe, happy and constructive playground behavior. Include in these rules
topics such as general behavior, general safety rules, and equipment use
detailed by each piece of equipment, playground games and special
Teaching playground rules
Children are inventive, and use playground equipment in many different
ways not intended by the manufacturer. They must be instructed how to
play and how not to play on play equipment.
- Teach playground rules to students at the beginning of the school year
- Either the teacher or playground supervisor or both can do this
- Review the rules periodically
- Post a copy of playground rules in the classroom and/or on the
playground for easy reference
- Provide copies of the school’s playground rules to students’ parents or
- Publish playground rules in the school or student handbook
- Familiarize playground supervisors (including subs) with playground rules
Introducing new equipment
Teach the proper use of play equipment in a similar fashion using a qualified
person. Students will probably not play properly on a new piece of play
equipment without being taught.
Age separation of equipment
Separate the Kindergartners from older children. Large play structures should not be used by Kindergartners.
Recommended: play structures designated “2-5 years of age” for Kindergartner, and play structures designated “5-12 years of age” for older students.