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Schools try to reduce playground conflicts

    Recess at many public schools isn’t what it used to be.

    Many schoolyard games – such as tag – have been discouraged because kids play too rough and the conflicts carry over into class time afterward, educators say.

    “We haven’t played tag for a long time,” says Tamala Newsome, principal at Rosa Parks School in North Portland. “If someone gets pushed down, it’s not intentional but you can’t spend time resolving it. … They’re missing their instruction time. That’s just not OK.”

    Now, tag and other schoolyard games have a chance to make a comeback.

    Rosa Parks and seven other Portland Public Schools are hiring a full-time recess coach through a national nonprofit called Playworks, which aims to put the play back in playground.

    The program places a coach in each school to lead students in games at recess, teach conflict management and leadership skills on and off the playground, run sports leagues after school and pop into classrooms during the day to get kids moving and focused back on learning.

    “It’s the power of play,” says Jonathan Blasher, a Eugene native who recently moved from California to oversee the rollout of Playworks’ debut in Oregon. “It’s not just silly games, but it can teach a lot of important social skills and is used to improve education.”

    — Excerpt from the Portland Tribune, September 10, 2009


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