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Outdoor Recess Matters! Preventing and Reducing Children’s Challenging Behaviors on the Playground
Yang, H. W., Ostrosky, M. M., Favazza, P. C., Akamoglu, Y., Cheung, W. C., & Aronson-Ensign, K.
Early childhood programs usually provide children with daily recess time for active play. Typically, recess occurs outside on the school playground. During this time, children take a short break from structured instruction to play, explore independently, and socialize with peers. According to National Association for the Education of Young Children (2020), recess should not be withheld as a punishment; likewise, educators should not reduce or eliminate recess for children who need extra support to meet behavioral expectations. Even though spending time on the playground could be a great opportunity for children to develop a variety of foundational social and emotional skills, it is also a setting that is ripe for challenging behaviors such as hitting, pushing and arguing, and playing in an unsafe way (Brez & Sheets 2017; Mulryan-Kyne 2014). These behaviors can occur on the playground because of unclear expectations, the vast range of student skill levels, and the lack of structured routines.
Responding to challenging behaviors can be difficult for many teachers (Westling 2010), especially in unstructured settings. In this article, we will share strategies based on the Pyramid Model, an evidence-based and multi-tiered framework for supporting social and emotional competence for young children (Hemmeter et al. 2021), such as ways to build positive relationships among young children on the playground and strategies for creating a supportive playground environment.
Yang, H. W., Ostrosky, M. M., Favazza, P. C., Akamoglu, Y., Cheung, W. C., & Aronson-Ensign, K. (2022). Outdoor Recess Matters! Preventing and Reducing Children’s Challenging Behaviors on the Playground. Young Children, 77, 24-34.