FAQ About Playworks' Service Options

What services does Playworks offer?

Playworks partners with schools with a wide variety of needs. Transform your school with a full-time Playworks coach, collaborate with an onsite Playworks recess expert to empower your playground team, or build capacity for positive play with Playworks professional development. Learn more about Playworks Coach, Playworks TeamUp, and Playworks Pro.

Do you work with middle schools or K-8 schools?

Playworks programming is designed for elementary schools. We do work with K-8 schools if the focus is on the lower grades.

Who are your staff? What are their qualifications?

Energetic, fun, and consistent are three words that capture Playworks coaches, site coordinators, and certified trainers. A common thread among our staff is a commitment to and passion for supporting the health and well-being of children. All coaches, site coordinators, and certified trainers come to Playworks with prior experience working with children and generally have worked within after-school programs, youth leagues and summer camps, or within other youth service agencies in the nonprofit sector.

Who is responsible for supervising the Playworks staff person?

Playworks is responsible for training and overseeing the work of each coach, site coordinator, and certified trainer. We assign each school site a program manager, whose role is to supervise and support coaches and site coordinators. Program managers are responsible for overseeing and maintaining program quality at each school site and serve as the primary contact person for school administrators.

How many staff are assigned to a school?

In the Playworks Coach service, one full-time, caring and consistent Playworks coach implements our entire program at each school.

With Playworks TeamUp, Playworks partners with elementary schools by providing a part-time on-site coordinator to teach, model, and empower a sustainable recess program.

Playworks Pro provides professional training and ongoing development to existing school staff, paraprofessionals, and after-school care providers to create and maintain a great recess and play environment throughout the school year.


What offsite and remote support is available to direct service schools?

We provide a number of opportunities for school staff and kids to experience distance learning, including:

  • Curation of Playworks resources: Site Coordinator will provide staff with guidance and support resources for virtual game implementation and self-directed play activities for students
  • Live “Virtual Play” Sessions: Site Coordinator will lead virtual CGT and JCLP sessions with students
  • Consultation Webinars: When in-person trainings are not possible, Playworks will provide school staff with professional development and support for in-person and distance learning play-based programming

FAQ About Working with Playworks

How do schools apply for Playworks?

Playworks has three service models to meet the needs of diverse schools.

For Playworks Coach or TeamUp, if we are currently in your city or region, contact your local Playworks branch. If you are in a potential expansion region, please contact the national Playworks office.

School Interest Forms are generally sent out in January of every year. After conducting school site visits we make decisions beginning in March on which schools we will be working with during the upcoming year. Schools which are not selected are placed on our waiting list.

For Playworks Pro, request a recess assessment to be put in touch with Playworks staff member who can help you get the support you need.

Can I get Playworks in my city?

Playworks is expanding and looking for new cities that wish to bring our Playworks Coach and TeamUp services to their schools and students. To learn more, please contact info@playworks.org.

Playworks Pro provides training to schools and community organizations to cities across the country.

How much does it cost?

Costs for each service vary by region and for low-income schools, by available philanthropy.

The Playworks Coach service costs, on average, between $60,000-$65,000 to implement at each school, depending on the region. Thanks to considerable philanthropic support, the cost to schools is much lower: public elementary schools (and K-8) with greater than 50% Free and Reduced Lunch student enrollment are eligible for up to 50% subsidy.

The Playworks TeamUp service costs, on average, between $18,000-$22,000 per school, depending on the region. Public elementary schools (and K-8) may be eligible for up to 30% subsidy if their school has greater than 50% Free and Reduced Lunch student enrollment.

The Playworks Pro service is available for schools both in and outside of existing Playworks regions. It is not typically subsidized by Playworks though schools may seek additional funding externally. A wide variety of engagement levels are possible. Fill out a training assessment to learn more.

We also ask schools to provide a basic set of playground equipment (balls, cones, jump ropes, etc) that usually cost no more than $300 and can be supplemented by existing equipment at the school site.

How do schools pay for their portion of the program?

The majority of schools use funding within their own school budget. Some schools supplement their funds through external sources such as grants and community support.

When can you start?

Playworks’ Coach and TeamUp services are designed to start on the first day of school. We recruit our staff throughout the year, train them in the summer, with programming set to start at the beginning of the school year. We generally do not start up these services mid-year.

Playworks Pro (professional development) services can start any time during the school year.

FAQ About Playworks Coach and Playworks TeamUp

Playworks Coach is in my city, but it is not in my school. How can I get Playworks in my school?

The Playworks Coach service is provided exclusively in low-income schools. To bring Playworks Coach to your school, at least 50 percent of enrollment must be eligible for free and reduced lunches. To learn more, contact the executive director listed on our website for your city. S/he will be able to provide the information you need to bring Playworks to your school.

What if my school does not meet the low-income requirement for the Playworks Coach program?

If your school does not meet our low-income requirements, we can bring play to your school through TeamUp or Playworks Pro. These programs are designed to teach parents, teachers, staff and other adults how to organize healthy and inclusive play and to help youth learn lessons about teamwork, communication, and conflict resolution that enable them to return to the classroom ready to learn.

What is the Junior Coach program? How would you work with our existing after-school program?

The Playworks after-school program model works with 15 students, called Junior Coaches, for the entire school year. We have found that our format often complements larger after-school programs by working with those students who would benefit from being a part of a leadership program where they will participate in fun leadership activities, games, and team building led by a positive adult role model during the after school hours.

The Junior Coach program focuses on leadership development and training and is designed primarily for 4th and 5th grade students. Junior Coaches attend 2-4 hours of training after school each week led by the Playworks Coach. They also participate in team building activities and service at recess. The Junior Coach Program provides:

Opportunities for leadership: Coaches purposefully provide leadership opportunities for students throughout the school day. They ensure there are different types of opportunities, and that all junior coaches are able to participate.

Leadership Skill Development: Coaches work with 4th and 5th grade students to develop their leadership skills. They use debriefs, checks for understanding, and opportunities to apply skills to assess skill development.

Shared Leadership on Recess Objectives: Coaches and Junior Coaches both feel a sense of ownership of recess objectives and work together to achieve these objectives.

Do we still need to provide supervision at recess periods?

Yes. The role of Playworks coaches and site coordinators on the playground is to create safe and inclusive options and opportunities for play. They should not be a substitute for a playground supervisor.

Does your staff teach PE classes?

No. Our coaches and site coordinators are not Physical Education teachers. Playworks does offer 30-45 minute structured physical activity classes with teachers. During these class game times, students and teachers are able to learn and practice the games and physical activities that will be available during recess periods. Students and teachers also develop a culture of respect, inclusion, healthy community, and healthy play.

Do you work with Kindergarten?

Yes. We work with all elementary grade levels through our recess and Class Game Time components.

FAQ About Playworks Pro

How will Playworks Pro training benefit the students I work with?

Playworks training provides adults who work with youth the tools to create a safe, healthy, and inclusive play program. The benefits kids receive from the environment created by a Playworks trained adult include: an enriched and active recess or play experience, improved learning and academic performance, development of conflict resolution skills and youth leadership, and fewer incidences of bullying.

Why should I choose Playworks to train my staff?

Playworks has an effective and unique approach that focuses on allowing adults to experience active, physical play, just as a child would on the playground. Each workshop addresses various adult learning styles and builds on the core principals of youth development. Through an experiential learning process every workshop participant will have the opportunity to participate in, learn, and discuss the best practices of physical activity, play, and group management that Playworks has cultivated over the past two decades.

How do I know which Pro services are best for me and my staff?

Our Pro program descriptions contain detailed information about our customizable professional development programs that will empower your staff to create more opportunities for safe and healthy play, during and outside of the school day.

If you are looking to start a recess program at your school, Recess Implementation and Recess 360 are great options.

Can my school or youth organization schedule a training even if we are not near a Playworks office?

Yes. Playworks trainers travel anywhere and conduct our trainings at your site. Playworks trainers been all over the United States, and have even traveled to Canada and Taiwan.

Do I have to be directly affiliated with a school to attend one of your Playworks Pro trainings?

No. We provide trainings for a variety of organizations that work with youth (3-17 years old), including community-based organizations, before- and after-school programs, and parks and recreation departments.

Is there a minimum or maximum number of participants for Playworks Pro trainings?

To keep the trainings interactive, participatory, and highly effective, we work with groups of a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 35 people.

If your program has more than 35 staff members, we recommend providing multiple trainings for smaller groups, or we can send additional trainers to work with the entire staff for a flat fee.

How much do Playworks Pro trainings cost?

Rates are based on program length, consultation visits, the number of participants attending, and travel fees. Our local Playworks account managers are happy to walk you through every step of our process. To receive a personalized assessment with no obligation to commit, please submit the Training Assessment form and we will get in touch as soon as we can.

How far in advance should I schedule a Playworks Pro training?

If you have a specific date in mind, we recommend contacting us 8-16 weeks in advance. If your dates are flexible, we can easily accommodate you. Fill out our Training Assessment to schedule a training.

FAQ for Parents and Guardians

When Playworks partners with new schools, many families have questions about how we approach recess.  Here are some frequently asked questions.