No playground at K-4 public primary school - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 08-12-2004, 12:09 AM - Thread Starter
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They don't have one and don't want one because of "liability concerns". There is a blacktop with some basketball hoops and four square marks, a new baseball field, and they just cut down a beautiful stand of white pine wetlands to put in a soccer field.

But I can't get over the fact that there's no playground. It just seems weird to me. All the other primary schools in our town have one, and several playgrounds in our area have been updated this summer with new equipment.

Is this a red flag, or should I instead be grateful that my kindergartner won't fall off the monkey bars but rather be forced to tap her inner creativity in her outdoor play?
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#2 of 8 Old 08-12-2004, 02:03 PM
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I would be concerned about how much time the kids get to spend outside. I don't buy the libility stuff when other public schools have playgrounds. Recess time is very important to younger kids and outdoor play is also important. This may be something the parents would have to take up as a cause.
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#3 of 8 Old 08-12-2004, 03:51 PM
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I attended a private religious school that ripped out the playground because of liability concerns. I remember how disappointed we all were when they did it.

But, we did play outside for half an hour at recess. We played tag, jumped rope, kickball, etc. So, even without the playground, kids will find a way to play.

I would take every single opportunity I could to express displeasure to the school board, the principal and the PTA. But I wouldn't write the school off over it.
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#4 of 8 Old 08-12-2004, 04:59 PM
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What if someone tripped and fell while playing basketball?

Kids are going to fall, no matter what. You could keep them in the classroom all day and they would still fall. The no-playground policy sounds like a move toward doing away with recess, which some elementary schools have already done. Other schools have something of a "structured recess" where there is no playground and instead of free play, the teachers just have the kids walk around a track for 30 minutes and then go back to class.

One of the schools near me has this huge playground! It's all wood, no cheap plastic stuff, and it's a whole children's village. I love it. I don't see how some playgrounds are liabilities and some aren't. Every time I go to this park, I see kids fall, my dd included. They get right back up and go on playing.
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#5 of 8 Old 08-12-2004, 09:50 PM
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I have heard that there were some new federal regulations passed a couple years ago that make for more stringent rules about playground equiplment. The equipment that's "approved" tends to be the more expensive units, which means schools can't construct their own anymore. So their liability concern may be related to having to purchase expensive equipment. But, our PTO raised money for f2 years and purchased an awesome playgrouond that everyone feels good about. (And no one has gotten injured yet!) Maybe if you volunteer to run a fundraising committee for playground equipment, people would be more receptive?

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#6 of 8 Old 08-13-2004, 05:36 PM
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Did you ask at the school how much unstructured play time the kids get? A baseball field and stuff is nice, but how much time do the kids get to play without someone telling them what to do?

Midwife (CPM, LDM) and homeschooling mama to:
14yo ds   11yo dd  9yo ds and 7yo ds and 2yo ds  
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#7 of 8 Old 08-13-2004, 08:36 PM - Thread Starter
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I haven't asked how much unstructured playtime there is, but I will at orientation. Kindergarten is only 2.5 hours long each day, and the materials I've received so far indicate that the children MAY go outside SOMETIMES so it's obviously not a big part of the program. This isn't a problem for me at this level, since my dd and I will be outside a lot of the time when she's not in school anyway. But I'm sure I will be involved in the school as a parent, so the playground issue may be something I participate in down the road. Actually, I would love to build a nature trail in what remains of the woods. Judging by the trash in the woods around the school, the kids could use a little environmental education and nature appreciation. I wonder how much liability THAT would incur?

Thanks for your responses, all. I'm just a little freaked out about sending my oldest child to school.
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#8 of 8 Old 08-13-2004, 08:55 PM
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For me, it would depend what else there was to do outside. In the UK, very very few schools have the sort of playground climbing equipment that schools in the USA have. But a good school has activities for children to do and toys and creative games to play. Playground markings, skipping ropes, bats and balls, dress up stuff, bricks, etc etc.

Personally, I think that is more worthwhile than one piece of climbing equipment. So I'd want to see an overall picture of what happens at recess and what the children do, and how the adults interact with them.
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