No More Rules on the Playground! The Results: Less Bullying

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A New Zealand school principal who stopped enforcing playground rules says he has seen an immediate decrease in bullying, vandalism and injuries. Principal Bruce McLachlan did away with the playtime rules as part of a university study looking at ways to encourage active play among children. The ban on health and safety-based playground rules allows children at Swanson Primary School in Auckland to “climb trees, ride skateboards and play games such as bullrush during playtime.”

Children are also allowed to play in a “loose parts pit” containing junk pieces such as wood, old tires and an old fire hose.

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The study removed the “timeout” area and even reported a higher concentration level from students in the classroom.

Mr McLachlan said: “The kids were motivated, busy and engaged. In my experience, the time children get into trouble is when they are not busy, motivated and engaged. It’s during that time they bully other kids, graffiti or wreck things around the school.”

“When you look at our playground it looks chaotic. From an adult’s perspective, it looks like kids might get hurt, but they don’t.”

“We want kids to be safe and to look after them, but we end up wrapping them in cotton wool when in fact they should be able to fall over.”

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