Playworks for every kid

Study shows a trained, playful adult on the playground = Less Bullying

Promoting positive behavior at school reduces bullying, Mathematica says
April 16, 2012

Bullying has reached the crisis point in our schools. We’re proud to share a new year-long study by Mathematica Policy Research and Stanford University that finds that in schools with Playworks there is less bullying and exclusionary behavior. Great programs have stepped up to teach youth to speak up and train adults to react. Unfortunately, these don’t address the underlying issues. Elementary schools need a proactive approach to provide social and emotional learning--promoting positive behavior, empathy, conflict resolution and more.

Not surprisingly, principals report that the majority of discipline problems happen at recess or lunch. Bullying occurs too often on the playground. University of Pennsylvania Psychologist Stephen Leff reported “Given that the majority of low-level aggression in the elementary school occurs in unstructured school settings, such as on the playground during recess, it is surprising that few programs have been developed to promote children’s social skills during recess.”

Playworks has been promoting safe, healthy play on schoolyards for the past 15 years, placing a trained, caring adult coach in our partners schools to positively impact social and emotional learning. Teachers at Playworks schools tell us that Playworks reinforces positive behavior during recess (96%), helps students stay out of trouble (91%), and provides positive experiences for students during recess (99%).

The Mathematica study was a rigorous scientific trial, revealing that investing in recess and organized play can prevent bullying. This is potentially the first study that evaluates a recess- and play-based program providing a school-based solution. “Our research shows that Playworks makes a difference. Teachers in Playworks schools reported less bullying and exclusionary behavior during recess relative to control school teachers,” said Susanne James-Burdumy, Ph.D., associate director of research at Mathematica.

In a 2010 survey of Playworks, one teacher shared: “I think that this is a wonderful idea to decrease bullying, teasing, the forming of cliques, etc. during recess time. The students are active, playing, learning, and socializing... what more can an educator ask for!”