Yes, This is a Real Sign at a Real School’s Playground

Readers: This comes to us from a Pennsylvania boy’s dad, who tells us it’s not a joke — it’s the sign right before you go out to the playground at his son’s after-care program at an elementary schoolI think the kids were insructed to write down the rules. Sure sounds fun! – L

A sign of the (play)  times.

A sign of the (play) times.

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58 Responses to Yes, This is a Real Sign at a Real School’s Playground

  1. Marci April 21, 2013 at 8:16 am #

    The part that made me laugh was the colorful “Have Fun” rule. ( I’m assuming the school checked to make sure that the colors used in the markers were safe and non-toxic)

    When I speak to parents about their kids and healthy body image, I STRONGLY encourage them to involve their kids in physical play..they need to know all of the amazing things their bodies can DO so they’ll spend less time focusing on how they LOOK.

    One of the activities I suggest for parents in my book is to take their kids to the park and create obstacle courses for them (My kids loved them growing up!) and I specifically mention having them run UP the slides! (There goes rule #1!) I encourage them to use playground equipment in different and creative ways.

    I am confused by the “Only jump off one foot rule.” What the heck is that about??

    Play more, stress less.

  2. pentamom April 21, 2013 at 8:26 am #

    It’s a mixed bag. No climbing up the slide when other kids are trying to use it as designed is a matter of courtesy. No throwing balls at people except in a game is completely unobjectionable. But in general, yeah, they’re about trying give playground play the manners and energy level of a tea party.

  3. SKL April 21, 2013 at 8:52 am #

    Cute, it’s hard to tell if it is serious or silly.

    Here’s how my youngest learned to be safe. She tried the hanging upside down thing before she was really coordinated enough to do it (age five, bar height about 6′ off the ground). She fell on her head/face twice in a row. Third time, she figured out how to not fall on her head while hanging upside down (or more accurately, while getting back into an upright position). The end. PS, this was during school recess (1st grade) and they did not ban the practice despite sending her to the nurse twice. And nobody died!

  4. Carolyn April 21, 2013 at 8:56 am #

    The problem is that there are always a couple of yahoo parents who WILL sue if their child gets injured while under the care of a teacher or daycare. Schools these days have got to enforce some pretty strict rules just so they don’t spend taxpayer money on legal fees when some idiot tries to sue them. Yes, no climbing up the slide is pretty crucial….kids can get whammed in the face fairly seriously when someone else is coming down the slide….and the way they build them as tubes these days kids are not checking to see if someone is coming down.

  5. pentamom April 21, 2013 at 8:58 am #

    I think the rule is supposed to be “only jump one foot” i.e. don’t jump down from anything higher than one foot off the ground. There’s no “off” in the rule. It’s not very clear, though.

  6. Taradlion April 21, 2013 at 9:07 am #

    My son came home with a large scratch across his back. He said, “I got it running under the (climbing structure) bridge playing TAG.”

    My response, “duck lower next time.”

    Kids need to run, jump off high things, slide, climb….

  7. Eden April 21, 2013 at 9:28 am #

    As a free-ranger and a teacher, two thoughts come to my mind. The director at this after-school program seems to have used best practices here by allowing the children to complete their own list of rules for the playground. So, I think it is pretty likely these are the rules the children created for themselves, as a group, for playing outside. That is pretty awesome to me. . My second thought is that the children created rules that are based on the rules they must following during the school day that they did not create. The children have likely never been able to think about what they want to do on the playground if only allowed. Their lives are so governed by rules…

  8. Kristen April 21, 2013 at 10:38 am #

    I love that the kids are involved in the making of the rules. As an elementary school teacher, these rules look organic- as if they have arisen from actual problems. They all look pretty reasonable to me, especially if they were agreed upon. “Only jump off 1 foot” might mean an apparatus that’s OK to jump off. Maybe the rest are too high for jumping with that many kids on the playground. Rules for the playground when you take a few kids are different than the rules when you have a hundred kids outside with four monitors. Climbing up the slide results in fewer kids being able to go down. It’s less about safety and more about keeping the flow going. I’m glad to see that “No running” is not on the list as it is on more and more school playgrounds.

  9. CrazyCatLady April 21, 2013 at 10:45 am #

    Did the kids “come up” with the rules or did they have to COPY the rules? What is said in the post is not clear. It says “write down” the rules, which could be taken either way.

  10. Rich Wilson April 21, 2013 at 10:48 am #

    I think you’re right @Eden. It would be interesting to further the group activity and get the kids into a process of refining the rules. “Why shouldn’t one be allowed to pick up sticks/rocks” “Because they my hurt someone else”. “How about a rule about not hurting people?”

  11. Libby April 21, 2013 at 10:49 am #

    I’ve been working in and running before and after school programs since 1997. In 1997, a child who falls and skins their knee outside got a bandaid, some TLC, and an unnecessary ice pack for their pride.

    In 2007, a child tripped and fell playing tag. Busted his knee, scraped his forehead. The parent ripped a hole in me, spoke to the school board, and I was directed to ban tag because it wasn’t safe.

    Things are moving ever faster in this direction. Not every parents is open minded. Some are desperately fearful, suspicious, and do not trust people. In my position, we have to cater to and reassure all of them. Signs like this are an effort to teach “no” gracefully. Kids must learn no as well as yes.

    If it were my program, we’d have discussed these rules as they were written, which emphasizes cause/effect, sportsmanship, and playing without hurting others. We’d match every “don’t” with three things you *can* do on the playground.

    Looks to me like the children are being encouraged to think about and evaluate the rules themselves, which is what we want them to do, right? The world has rules– and bringing up healthy, happy, and kind human beings means passing along the rules of society, analyze them, and decide which are important to follow and which must be questioned.

    Maybe this dad should approach the teacher about the rules, instead of shaming this effort. I’ll bet he or she would learn something about the way his child processes rules and society.

  12. Papilio April 21, 2013 at 10:51 am #

    “No playing” would have been an accurate summary and saves a lot of writing…

    Couldn’t they just put up rules for the adults instead?
    – Use brain
    – No sueing if kid gets scrape from normal playing behavior
    – …
    More ideas, anyone?

  13. Brooke April 21, 2013 at 11:00 am #

    I think the funniest (and saddest) thing about this list is the “angry teacher” drawing. Organic or not, clearly these kids see these rules as a drag (I would guarantee that the colorful “Have fun” was fully adult-initiated, trying to lighten up their bleak reality). They see their teacher as the angry enforcer.

  14. In the Trenches April 21, 2013 at 11:06 am #

    Har! I love it. Where are the colourful lists of adult behaviour?

    No being a douche at your kids’ hockey games.

    No pretending that the world is more dangerous than it is.

    No hovering.

    No betting more than 5 cents at your weekly poker game.

    No more than one drink a day.

    No texting while driving.

    No driving your kid to school when they could walk or bike.

    No blaming the teacher for poor grades.

    No being an ass-hat in front of your kids.

    No spanking.

    No telling your kids ‘no’ unless there is a good reason. (Adjunct: broken limbs are not permanent, and therefore not a good reason not to have adventures).

    Fun, right? A good combination of other people’s priorities and some good old fashioned arbitrary rules would make any adult frustrated and rebellious. And we wonder why our teenagers have a reputation for being surly and unhappy. The only other people who have as many restrictions on them in the U.S. as kids are felons in prison, or U.S. Marines. Actually, nope — kids and teens have more. Sigh.

    Wouldn’t you be depressed if people questioned your autonomy and controlled your every movement and thought?

  15. Arabella April 21, 2013 at 11:59 am #

    How about, “No Sleeping During Grammar Class.”

  16. Jenny Islander April 21, 2013 at 12:00 pm #

    I look at that list and I think of the time in first or second grade when somebody broke the rule about only one person on the top of the slide at a time. As the teachers had predicted, while trying to stand up there on a one-butt platform that already had a butt on in, the kid who had broken the rule fell off. She broke her arm.

    Then the teachers on playground duty immobilized the arm and applied ice to dull the pain. One went in to call her parents while the other said loudly and firmly, “This is what happens when you crowd the top of the slide.”

    And the next day the student was back in class with a cast. The end.

  17. Ann in L.A. April 21, 2013 at 12:08 pm #

    The handwriting looks like a kid’s. Can I perhaps hope that this is an ironic protest by a precocious pre-teen?

  18. Emily April 21, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

    I like the frowny angry face after “Respect All Rules,” as if “respect” is an external thing you give artificially to an “enforcer” type person, like a teacher or a playground monitor. As for the rules, I’d edit them as follows:

    1. No climbing up slides while others want to go down.

    2. Only jump onto soft surfaces (sand, wood chips, and MAYBE grass).

    3. No hitting, kicking, or physical contact that hurts. Tag, high fives, hugs, etc., are okay.

    4. No throwing balls at people outside of games, and all participants in said “game” must be willing.

    5. No handstands or cartwheels on pavement; however, on the grass is fine. Also, I’d be willing to teach any kids who don’t know how to do a cartwheel, how to do one.

    6. Climbing on top of the monkey bars is okay; however, NEVER push anyone who’s on top of the monkey bars, and if two people are trying to go in two opposite directions on top of the monkey bars, both people go back to their respective platforms, and cross one at a time.

    7. Hanging upside down is permitted, but only over soft surfaces.

  19. Sky April 21, 2013 at 12:44 pm #

    Whatever kid wrote this seems to have an ironic sense of humour–the picture of the angry teacher, followed by the fake, colorful have fun with MULTIPLE exclamation points, and then the sad face next to “repeat all rules.”

  20. Alex April 21, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

    The list reminded me of this short little video

    I know George Carlin isn’t the child-friendliest thing out there but what he says makes a lot of sense.

    Expanded version:

    Thank you.

  21. Stephanie April 21, 2013 at 1:49 pm #

    Reminds me of when my daughter was told by a yard duty that she could not so much as pick up a rock during recess. My daughter had long since learned not to throw them, but she loves examining them and sometimes collecting them.

  22. PaigeN April 21, 2013 at 1:58 pm #

    I always *laugh* when I pick my nanny kids up at school. The school monitor shouts at all the kids running from the doors of the school to their waiting parents or busses:

    “Stop running! Walking only! Don’t run on the grass! Use the sidewalk! Stand in line!”

    I wonder how she stays sane when she’s GOT TO KNOW that kids just don’t do that!

  23. Gina April 21, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

    I wonder how we all survived running around the neighborhood without ANY rules. We learned respect through DOING….regardless of whether these rules are about respect or injury, they are unnecessary. LET THE KIDS FIGURE IT OUT!

  24. SKL April 21, 2013 at 2:28 pm #

    I do agree with some of the rules. No crawling up the slide, for reasons mentioned by prior posters. No throwing balls at people unless in a game. No [intentional] head shots. I hated being forced to play “Dodge Ball” with obnoxious boys when I was in elementary school. Kids can still be kids without being mean.

  25. Katie April 21, 2013 at 7:00 pm #

    Bizzare, although this reminds me has anyone seen the new chuck e cheese ad that emphasizes how Chuck E Cheese is a SAFE and CLEAN place before even bothering to mention fun?

  26. hineata April 21, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

    @Gina -amen.

    @Emily – the kids where I teach are forever swinging upside down on the stair rail outside the library, which of course is over concrete. We tell them off when we catch them at it, but honestly, the only thing that really stops them is when they finally grow tall enough to whack their heads on the concrete. Experience is the best teacher 🙂 .

  27. Puzzled April 21, 2013 at 7:55 pm #

    If the kids did come up with the rules, I hope the kids are going to be expected to enforce them, and figure out what to do with rule breakers. It would be a shame to ask kids to come up with rules themselves, only to take the interesting part out of their hands.

  28. Puzzled April 21, 2013 at 7:56 pm #

    On a side note, why not blame teachers for bad grades? The teacher’s job does have teach in it, and if kids aren’t learning, guess who needs to change the way they do things? (I’m allowed to say it since I’m a teacher.)

  29. SKL April 21, 2013 at 8:43 pm #

    Puzzled, don’t get me started on teachers who blame little kids for the fact that teaching has not occurred. :/

  30. JP April 21, 2013 at 8:53 pm #

    ah gee,

    It’s an after-school program….elementary level.
    They’re such wee little darlin’s, aren’t they? – all the way up to – what, grade 6 level? Crimey.
    That being the case, a one-foot jump is exactly dangerous for what reason?
    And no – no matter how cute, the kids shouldn’t make the rules. The adults should – thereby exhibiting good common sense, a bit of wisdom, tolerance and ability to oversee tender young’uns. Otherwise……..the puppies tangle up the dogteam, no?
    As to reasons for rules regarding further litigation adventures, opportunities and profits – as usual, kids provide value-added fun. Sign of the times, and one more way their “public” domain just got privatized.

    As I recall, one of the most important learning curves in childhood, was meeting your own fears head-on, and mastering them. We weren’t alwasys silly and stupid, sometimes we were pretty astute – but always……we were curious.

    What part of this has been researched and developed out of the human race?

  31. Gab April 21, 2013 at 8:53 pm #

    No way is this real.

  32. JP April 21, 2013 at 8:57 pm #


    So very very sad – to think that the wondrous sparkle of pretty stones has been pre-empted by what a rock now represents in some circles:

    a weapon. period.

    – back to the stone age, we go…………………………………..

  33. Emily April 21, 2013 at 9:02 pm #

    @Puzzled–Good point on both counts. Usually, when adults lead kids in “coming up with the rules,” they guide the discussions to where they want them to go, and make it clear that the adult, not the kids, will be enforcing the consequences. So, for example, if the rule was “no swearing,” then the consequence might be a time-out, or writing lines, or something, but the teacher would oversee the time-out or line-writing. Kids aren’t expected to enact “vigilante justice” at school/day camp/wherever, because it’s really not fair to them. After all, if they have to “punish” a bully with an adult around, that bully is going to “punish” them right back as soon as the adult’s back is turned.

    As for blaming teachers for bad grades, yeah, I kind of agree with that too. Not every teacher is a fit for every student, and some teachers are just plain incompetent. The math teacher I had in grade nine, and again in grade eleven, is a prime example of that. He was good at math, but he didn’t understand what it was like not to understand, so he went through everything too fast, and got upset with me when I asked questions, saying things like “you should know that already,” etc. He was also very negative. On the first day of grade 11 math, he said, “If you passed grade 10 advanced math with less than 60%, there is a good chance you’ll fail this course.” However, he had trouble with written communication, and he often asked me to help him figure out how to phrase word problems……but he still didn’t see the connection, and he thought I was either dumb, lazy, or both. By contrast, my grade ten math teacher was a clarinetist like me, and he understood what it was like to be smart, but right-brained. He looked at my report card and said, “Emily, you’re doing well in everything else, what’s the problem here?” When I explained to him that I couldn’t explain it, he talked to my parents, and they got me a tutor.

  34. Warren April 21, 2013 at 9:26 pm #

    We cannot blame teachers for bad grades. Remember, everytime you see a school board rep on TV, they are reminding us that student safety is their number one priority. Therefore teaching and educating are not. Therefore you cannot blame bad grades on the teachers as long as the children are safe.

  35. AW13 April 21, 2013 at 9:27 pm #

    @Emily – I had a similar experience. Junior year, I switched high schools and as I’d been in advanced math at the previous school, I was enrolled in advanced math at my new school. It was light years beyond what I’d known before, and my teacher just did have a knack for teaching math to kids who weren’t also whizzes at math. I dropped at the semester with a D-. The next year, though, I took the same subject, but at the regular pace and with a different teacher, and not only did I understand EXACTLY what was going on, I actually really began to enjoy math! To this day, she was one of the absolute best teachers I’ve ever had!

  36. AW13 April 21, 2013 at 9:27 pm #

    **did NOT have a knack for teaching kids who weren’t math whizzes.

    Why yes, I do make a living teaching English! 🙂

  37. Emily April 21, 2013 at 10:07 pm #

    @AW13–Sometimes I look back and wonder if I might have done better in math, and not hated it so much, if I’d been allowed to take general math instead of advanced. There were three streams when I did high school; basic, general, and advanced, so general would have been the “middle” stream. I suggested it, but my parents vetoed it firmly, because they thought I’d need advanced math to get into university (I didn’t), they thought it was at least partly laziness that was holding me back (it wasn’t), and they also thought that me taking even one class that wasn’t at the “advanced” level would reflect poorly on them. Looking back, all I can think is, really? They’re both prominent lawyers, and I was a good kid, who got mostly good grades, and participated in the school community, volunteered at the YMCA, etc., so what would it have mattered if I was taking general math?

  38. LadyTL April 21, 2013 at 10:29 pm #

    Punishing teachers for student bad grades is flawed because first off that given bad teacher the incentive to just pass student for any reason and secondly it is wrong to blame teachers for things outside their control. Teachers cannot make a student learn. If the student would rather not do the work for whatever reason, teachers have no way or incentive to make them. Particularly if the parents don’t care. Also it completely ignores external forces such as bad home life or being picked on by other kids. I’m sorry starving or threatened kids don’t tend to learn as well as those who are well fed and feel safe.

    We should examine teachers who have classes with low grades but I don’t think blanket blame is helpful

  39. Charla April 21, 2013 at 10:58 pm #

    The only solution I know to this insanity of helicoptering is to remove kids from such schools and put them in kid-friendly schools. If no such school exists, create a charter school. Not all parents can afford private schools and many are as bad as public schools with ridiculous rules. Too many parents MUST work for many to be able to homeschool.

  40. Puzzled April 22, 2013 at 12:09 am #

    @Emily – actually, there are schools where the kids come up with the rules, and enforce them, and the issues you mention come up rarely if ever. Look up Sudbury for some examples. And yes, I tend to think teachers should help facilitate the discussion, but should avoid the pointing the discussion you mention – although of course my guess is that 99% of the time it ends up being the pointing variety. Part of that is how much the kids are conditioned – any question or comment from a teacher is taken either as validation or negation, not simply discussion. It’s a system-wide issue.

    @Warren – good point

    @TL – I didn’t say punish, I said blame. I certainly agree that teachers cannot make a student learn, but frequently neither can the student. I think this shows why I should be careful about making comments that don’t go as far as I’d like. The real point, to me, is that grades are rather meaningless as instruments of achievement, for blame – whatever. The issue in our real world, though, is that, to borrow your example, no one thinks that we shouldn’t blame starving or threatened kids for bad grades – in large part because inner-city schools are made up of middle-class adults from middle-class backgrounds. So, yes, it’s likely that no one should be blamed for the bad grades of starving and threatened kids – but why are we as a society so much more willing to blame the kids than the teachers?

    At the same time, I’m probably using ‘teacher’ as a shorthard here for the whole system. For instance, that starving kid you’re talking about is being graded for not doing well on things that are utterly irrelevant to their lives, will not help them to better their situation – in fact, will do the opposite when poor grades keep them from furthering their education. Why can’t we get them something worth learning, and if we think that ‘education’ must forever more be nothing other than books about first world problems, followed by abstract symbol manipulation, with major points taken in both cases for placement of commas – and, of course, utter disrespect for student’s lives and dialects – maybe just leave kids alone instead of wasting their time with it.

  41. Emily April 22, 2013 at 12:38 am #

    @Puzzled–How could I have forgotten about Sudbury Valley School? Yes, I am familiar with that place, and I’ve visited their website and watched their videos of some of the things that happen on a typical day. I think it’s a wonderful school, and if I ever have a child, I’d seriously consider a place like that for him or her.

  42. Emily April 22, 2013 at 12:50 am #

    P.S., For any student who’s struggling, but especially one who’s starving or threatened, then I think “leaving them alone” is the LAST thing you should do. Much better to get them to talk to someone about what’s really going on, like when my math teacher in grade ten sat me down and asked me why I was doing so badly in math, and only in math, when I was doing well in everything else, and I was obviously smart. When we worked out that it wasn’t for lack of trying, he got me a tutor. For a child who’s not getting enough to eat, there are school breakfast programs, and I know that some teachers keep healthy snacks on hand to sneak to the kids in need. I’ve heard of kids whose water is repeatedly being cut off at home, so they get permission to shower in the locker room before school. For kids who are threatened by bullies, there are programs to target that, and if the home situation is the problem, the school can refer the student to counselling or whatever as well. If it’s just garden-variety “not understanding” like I had with math, most teachers are willing to help students themselves, and there are also free and low-cost tutoring programs available through some public libraries, YMCA’s, Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs, etc. Alternatively, the teacher might simply ask a more proficient student, who already knows and likes the struggling student, if he or she could help. Also, my high school had a wide variety of extra-curricular activities available, which can do wonders for a student’s morale–if they struggle in one or more subjects, but participate in band, soccer, yearbook, whatever, then that gives them something to actually LIKE about school. Maybe they excel in it, like I did with music, but even if they don’t, again, it’s an opportunity to take part in a positive activity, and make some friends in the process. So, instead of “leaving alone” or “blaming” kids who are struggling, I think the schools should be asking how they can help.

  43. Puzzled April 22, 2013 at 1:21 am #

    Emily – I agree, I meant ‘leaving alone’ only in a limited sense – of not spending 13 years poking away at them to read the books we choose or to jumble symbols around on a piece of paper. Doing things with them that they enjoy – absolutely.

    Regarding not understanding – I think it’s important to determine a few things. First, in my experience, students getting As also don’t understand (in math) and neither do most teachers. What we’re really talking about, to get grades up, is getting better at a rather useless skill. I don’t see why it’s valuable to have the student spend extra time on that.

    Regarding Sudbury – I think it’s a great option, perhaps the best currently in existence, if we’re within the school paradigm. I don’t work at a Sudbury school, but I do work at one with a lot of curricular freedom where I can run my classroom as I like, and I try to imitate as much as I can within our limitations. We also work with a much different clientele, who likely would not succeed at a Sudbury school. Anyway, I just mentioned it because they do set up their own courts, have meetings, write their own rules, etc.

  44. Taradlion April 22, 2013 at 7:00 am #

    There are terrible teachers- some have at least some students with good grades. There are also amazing teachers with some students that have bad grades. I think some of it depends on the age/grade if the child. If you are talking middle school/high school bad grades can be do to not doing the work.

    In dealing with some parents, my Dad would say, “If the child is not doing well, it is the teacher’s fault, but if they are doing well it is because their child is a genius”… And, there are MANY elementary school parents that won’t accept “meets expectations” (at grade level) as acceptable. Lenore posted about a high school teacher that was not allowed to give “zeros” for homework/assignments that wee not handed in.

    Teachers should teach and support learning, they can’t make a child do the work.

  45. Alyxandria April 22, 2013 at 8:20 am #

    This is highly irritating. I’m an early childhood education major out of Cleveland, OH. There is a set of standards in care facilities in ECED called the ECERS-R (Early Childhood Environmental Rating Scale Revised) that lays out specifics for gross-motor indoors and outdoors. One of the hallmarks of outdoor physical activity is that there is a wide variety of equipment available that allows children to run, jump, climb, swing, etc. Anything that is helping them develop their locomotor or gross motor abilities. Also, there should be mobile equipment (tricycles, scooters, etc.) and different surface types (wood chips, grass, foam, etc.) that allows for different textures and not too many bumps and bruises. Also, I take major issue with the fact that they aren’t encouraged to explore the natural world (sticks, rocks, woodchips). A child’s best learning is play-based and interest-driven – a teacher is supposed to be a guide, not a roadblock to learning. And, as this blog so well addresses, the majority of children aren’t having these encounters with nature and the outdoors that they would normally have at home. Since schools ARE one of the safest places your child can be, you would think teachers would jump at the chance to use a child’s natural curiosity in plants and rocks to develop their science curriculum. Even in an after-school care facility.

    For more information on what is Developmentally Appropriate Practice for physical activity, this is a good link that outlines the objectives of physical education and also is a good guideline for the playground. If a child wants to try hanging upside down, or climbing on top of the monkey bars, the environment should accomodate the child and not the other way around. ( I would hope there is an acceptable teacher to child ratio so that a child trying something for the first time has the encouragement and supervision needed (if any) to complete the task safely. Bumps and bruises, and maybe even sprains and breaks, all happen on the playground but that’s life.

    These sue-happy parents really get me – even if they win the law suit, it’s not like they can buy their kid out of the sprain or cut that they’ve already experienced. Better for them to take their bumps and bruises and learn to get back on the horse, as these types of things are going to happen over and over again. Parents aren’t doing kids any favors, especially in this new economy. Helicopter parents – are you going to sue the employers who won’t hire your child? Are you going to pay off their student loan debt? Are you going to let them live with you forever so they never have to feel bushed by working 2 jobs to keep an apartment and pay their bills? My mother said it best the first time I got tough love – “I’m raising adults, not old children”.

  46. Warren April 22, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    This sign was obviously made by the students, and while some people make think it is a good thing to have the kids involved in making up the rules, it actually isn’t. What it is is making the kids more comfortable with unreasonable limitations, not rules.

    In this case thier is a huge difference between “rules” and limitations/ restrictions. By being led to believe they are apart of the process, it is easier for the teachers and schools to make them conform to the expected norm.

  47. Warren April 22, 2013 at 10:29 am #

    When we place too many restrictions on developing bodies, such as our kids, we are doing them great harm. Organized sport and activity has it’s place, but does not allow for natural developement.

    While kids are growing and developing they make unconcience (pls excuse the spelling) choices and determinations. They are more like discoveries of the body.
    It is through play, unstructured, non regulated play that a child discovers thier physical type. Are they going to be the speedster, the agile one, the powerhouse, the planner, the flexible one, the one with endurance, or whatever. It is much better for them to find out on thier own which they are, than to try and mold it through organization.
    Sports and activities are meant to help enhance thier natural abilities. Yes later if one chooses a competitive path, then they also work hard on weaknesses. But if a kid doesn’t know thier own strengths, then they will struggle and make poor choices.

  48. Emily April 22, 2013 at 12:25 pm #

    @Warren–I agree with you about free play. That’s the time when kids discover who’s the best runner, tree climber, cartwheeler, etc., and who’s less suited to athletic pursuits, but may be really good at, say, building sand castles. So, you’re right, organizing and scheduling kids’ worlds down to the minute really isn’t good for their development. It’s one thing to take your kid to the park, and watch her cartwheel all over the grass, and hang upside down from the monkey bars, and then decide to enroll her in gymnastics based on your observations, or buy your kid a soccer ball for the backyard, and then decide to put him in peewee soccer if he likes kicking the ball around the yard, but those are decisions based on the child’s strengths and preferences, which can’t be ascertained until you stand back and let your kid just be for a little while. This may mean that you can’t put your kid in soccer or gymnastics the moment they can walk, but so much the better. When I was a kid, most organized sports didn’t even take kids under five, because they figured that kids too young for public school were still working on exploring and learning from the world around them, and weren’t ready for the structure, waiting turns, and following instructions involved in a Little League practice or a dance class. Also, it gave me something to look forward to, as in, “When you’re five, you can join dance/skating/Sparks (Canadian equivalent of Daisy Scouts), or whatever.” The only thing I can see starting kids in early is swimming, because swimming is more than just a sport; it’s a survival skill.

  49. A Dad April 22, 2013 at 12:35 pm #

    During recess, I watched two boys swinging each other around in circles and letting go to have them both go flying in opposite directions.
    The game stopped when one of the boys went headlong into a wall.
    Nothing like a headknocker and a little blood to take the spunk out of an 8 y/o.

  50. EricS April 22, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

    It’s interesting how this was made. I’m guessing by the man’s kid. Did the child come up with this on his, or did the parents influence a great deal. For the most part, I think it’s a good step in the right direction. It’s at least getting kids out to play, without parents hovering over them. But reading some of the rules, leads me to think that his parent’s had some say in what he wrote down.

    Questionable rules:

    – No picking up stick, rocks or woodchips. – Why not? As long as your not throwing or hitting anyone with them (which are in Melc’s rules), or putting them in your mouth. Natural objects lend to adventurous minds. And encourages creativity and imagination.

    – No physical contact of any kind. – So no game of tag? No high-fives? No handshakes? No hugs? No helping hands for a friend who just fell down? Unless all the kids have some sort of health issue that they are not allowed physical contact with anyone, I think this one is a little too extreme.

    – No hanging upside down. – This one is can go either way. EVERY kid in EVERY school when I was growing up, hung upside down on monkey bars (it’s great for dexterity, balance, and orientation). Some more daring and hung higher than others. The ones that weren’t so daring, only hung upside down high enough that they could still touch the sand with their hands. So that they can drop down without injury or assistance. That was taught to us by both kids and adults/teachers.

    Mind you, in my elementary days, we did far more questionable things than these rules. In hindsight, even I think some of the things we did were outright dangerous. And I most likely would not allow my own to do them. Or at least not in the heights that we did them in. We used to play “beam tag”, it was tag, but you weren’t allowed to touch the ground. You had to traverse through the playground running on beams and the playground structure. ie. climbing and sliding tube slides, running on top of them, jumping from a beam to a fireman pole and sliding down just before you get to the ground and reach for the next beam, climbing on top of the dome monkey bars. And technically, if there was paper or wide enough objects on the ground, you could step on those. Yes, it was very fun. And all the while no child was ever killed or injured…severely. Bumps, bruises, scrapes, the odd cuts that required a band-aid. And teachers never stopped us from playing that way. As long as we weren’t fighting, or picking on each other. I also don’t recall any parents ever making a big stink about anything we did or were allowed to do in school.

  51. EricS April 22, 2013 at 1:27 pm #

    Agree with Alyxandria and Warren.

    @ A Dad: But it’s also great how kids bounce back quickly. As long as they weren’t made to feel bad about hitting the wall. When kids got hurt doing play like that (and we all played like that), parents/teachers would say “are you ok?” help them up, dust them off. Look at us and continue “don’t spin so hard and hold on tighter next time.” Then ushered us back to playing (unless there some medical attention required, which wasn’t often).

    However, these days. Kids hear “I told you you shouldn’t have been playing there/with those kids. See what happens when you don’t listen to me!” They make their kids feel bad for being a kid. They condition their kids to think the world is unsafe and to be feared. And they say those things to make themselves feel good about being “right”…the odd times.

  52. Puzzled April 22, 2013 at 1:28 pm #

    @Warren – I disagree on the rules bit, agree on the rest. We want kids, by the time they grow up, to understand reasonable and unreasonable rules, and to not accept unreasonable rules without protest. One of the best ways to learn is through mistakes. Kids who have had the experience of writing bad rules, trying to enforce them, and then changing them when things don’t work out, have a much better understanding of what rules good and bad, than those whose only experience with rules is as unchallengable statements from authority figures.

  53. J.T. Wenting April 23, 2013 at 12:05 am #

    The handwriting may look like a kid’s, but it isn’t. It’s too regular for a kid’s coordination.
    People, this was written by an ADULT with about the same mental and physical skills as a 5 year old, aka a “teacher”.

  54. Amanda Matthews April 23, 2013 at 4:15 pm #

    Think about how you would act if you came home and suddenly there was someone there saying that he was going to make a bunch of new rules and you HAD to follow them.

    Contrast that with getting 2 new roommates and discussing rules that you will all follow to make each others’ lives better.

    If there’s just a totalitarian attitude about the whole thing, people are going to break the rules because they don’t respect them, they don’t see the point of them, and/or why should this person be telling them what to do?

    If people are part of a group and are following rules because they understand that others are going to follow these rules too, which will make their lives better, then they are more likely to follow them.

    I very much doubt this was written by a kid, though, and if it was, the kids certainly didn’t come up with them (what kid would come up with rules like that?). It is written in straight lines on a blank surface; how many kids can do that? And while I don’t think handwriting is an indication of prowess, grammar is, and the grammar in these rules are atrocious… These kids are seeing this every time they go outside, memorizing this… sigh.

  55. Emily April 23, 2013 at 11:05 pm #

    @J.T. Wenting–I disagree. A kid must have written, or copied, that list, because most adults I know can spell simple words like “physical,” “except,” “stands,” and “respect,” which makes more sense than “repeat” in this context.

    @Amanda Matthews–Funny you should mention the “newbie in the house making a bunch of new rules” thing, because I was in precisely that situation once. I’d been living in the sharehouse that was the postgraduate annex of International House for a year, and my housemates and I had basically fallen into a rhythm of daily life that we were all happy with–we got along, respected each other’s space, celebrated each other’s birthdays with cards and cakes, and since we were all from different countries, and different cultures, we did cultural celebrations too. Some people left, and others came in, but we just included them, and everything was great. That is, until our mentor (another student, our age, who kept things organized and resolved any problems in the house), left, and was replaced by a new mentor who was a complete totalitarian. He made us label our food, although we’d never before had a problem with theft, he’d reprimand us for accidentally dropping ONE Cheerio on the floor, or leaving ONE hair in the sink, or forgetting to crush a box before putting it in the recycling bin, and he’d stand over us while we “fixed” the problem. He also criticized the “welcome to International House” slideshow I’d made, as being “inappropriate,” because one slide said “At iHouse, you can be as wild and crazy as you want.” I meant, you can be an individual, but he took it to mean getting drunk. When we showed it to the new students, he turned his back to the screen, and refused to applaud my work along with the others. After two of my housemates came to me with their concerns about this guy, I wrote a formal complaint to the head of iHouse, since one of the housemates was a Ph.D. student who was too busy to do it, and the other was from China, and had some trouble with English. Cue a house meeting with the head of iHouse, and the two “leaders” of the student leader team, where we didn’t even really address the issue, but our mentor was on his best behaviour for the meeting. I didn’t fall for it, and said so to the powers-that-be, in private, after the meeting. The rest of the semester, more drama unfolded, and I did the best I could to minimize the damage; acting as a sort of “de facto” mentor, while the other guy remained a dictator. The following semester, after he left, I was made mentor instead, I mentored with kindness and democracy, and things became much happier and more relaxed in our house.

  56. hineata April 24, 2013 at 12:41 am #

    @Emily – just have to ask, what do you mean by a cheerio? Am assuming you have to mean something other than the little red sausages I am thinking of, because it would be sort of gross to leave them lying around on the floor…..

  57. Jenna K. April 25, 2013 at 10:14 am #

    I was a gymnast growing up and spent almost all of my playground time upside down on the bars, flipping out of the swings, and doing handsprings on the field. When I became a teacher, I was letting the kids do similar things on the playground and was reprimanded because those things were against the rules. It was against the rules even for them to do handstands or cartwheels on the playground. And all they could do on the bars was hang. They couldn’t even swing back and forth, much less do any of the tricks I used to do. It was ridiculous.