Being able to maintain behaviour and/or participate during recess ensures personal safety and creates opportunities for students to enjoy positive interactions with peers.

Choose the statement below that best describes how this student participates at recess.
This will help you identify a starting point for selecting strategies (e.g., 1=specialized, 2=targeted, 3=universal).

  • 1. Requires one-to-one assistance to provide physical support (e.g., getting from one area of the school to the playground, managing steps and doors, etc.) and/or to facilitate social interaction with peers and/or maintain appropriate behaviour and/or maintain student safety (e.g., moving safely, not interfering with other students, etc.)
  • 2. Requires frequent (e.g., more than once a week) adult reminders and redirection to play safely, stay within boundaries, follow adult direction and/or interact appropriately with peers (e.g., keeping hands and feet to self, using kind words, including others)
  • 3. May require occasional (e.g., less than twice a week) reminders to play safely, get along with others and solve problems but generally maintains appropriate behaviour on the playground

Universal Supports benefit all students

  • Work collaboratively with school staff to ensure that there are school-wide expectations for recess behaviour.
  • Communicate clear expectations about recess behaviour to school staff, students and their parents.
  • Develop effective routines that will support positive behaviour and participation during recess, such as:
    • plans for active supervision by school staff
    • availability and management of a variety of equipment that encourages active play, such as balls, skipping ropes and hula hoops
    • designated areas for specific activities (e.g., soccer, running, free play) and/or age groups (e.g., younger students have access to swings and sand play, tether ball poles are assigned to division levels)
    • clear boundaries so students are always in sight lines of supervising staff.
  • Teach, practise and review routines related to recess with students at the beginning of the school year, including safe play on various playground structures (e.g., taking turns on slides, keeping out of the path of swings).
  • Post visual reminders for behaviour expectations for recess in the classroom near the door so they can be referred to as students exit the classroom. When appropriate, collaborate with students to develop these visual reminders.
  • Use descriptive feedback to acknowledge positive recess behaviour demonstrated by individuals, groups of students and/or the class as a whole.

Targeted Supports benefit students with more specific needs

  • Pair individual students with positive peers who can serve as role models and provide support. Rotate these peers at regular intervals throughout the school year.
  • Provide proximity by positioning yourself (or recess supervisor) nearby individual students who may require support and encouragement during recess.
  • Work with individual students to develop low-key cues and prompts that you can use as friendly reminders to follow recess rules and/or use personal strategies for taking turns, resolving conflicts and managing frustration.
  • For students who require more structure and reassurance, develop and review social stories about a typical recess.
  • Use a Check out /Check in strategy for students to check in with a school staff member before recess (to commit to following one to three targeted rules or to brainstorm three things they can do at recess) and to check in after recess and report on how their recess went.
  • Develop personalized visual checklists to reinforce recess expectations. Some students may wish to carry the checklists with them.
  • For students with chronic difficulties at recess, do an environmental scan to identify specific social skills that are needed to have successful and positive recesses. Provide targeted coaching to individual and small groups of students in needed skills, such as turn taking and how to resolve conflicts.
  • For students with chronic difficulties at recess, develop self-monitoring strategies students can use to reflect on and keep track of their own behaviour during recess.
  • Set up a systematic approach to reinforcement for students who are working on improving and maintaining following recess routines. Reinforcement should encourage moving toward intrinsic motivation (e.g., how does it feel when you have a great recess?).

Specialized Supports benefit the small number of students with sensory, physical, cognitive or behavioural needs that require intensive, individualized interventions

  • Develop an individual behaviour support plan focused on increasing positive behaviour at recess. The plan could include social skill training, strategies for success and reinforcement strategies.
  • In exceptional situations, an individual student may need 1:1 adult support to provide guidance and/or physical support (moving a wheelchair) to ensure student safety and/or to promote positive social interactions.
  • In exceptional situations, it may be appropriate to schedule an alternate recess time/location for a specific time period.