The playground: a place at risk for my child?

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The playground: a place at risk for my child?

This time of freedom that recreation represents for children is essential to their development: laughter, games, observations of the other … A moment of relaxation but also of learning social rules which go through the teaching of dialogue, respect of oneself and of others. A place that sometimes can make people shudder when conflicts turn into dangerous games or fights.

Recreation in the texts

Normally, the time for recess is fixed very clearly in the texts: 15 minutes per half-day in elementary school and between 15 and 30 minutes in kindergarten. This schedule must “be allocated in a balanced way across all disciplinary fields”. SNUIPP teachers’ union.

During this period of COVID, the rhythm of recess was disrupted in order to adapt to hygiene measures and prevent children from different classes from crossing paths. Teachers take into account the difficulty of wearing a mask and allow students to take regular breaks in order to breathe better. Many petitions from parents of students have emerged in primary schools to find solutions to this lack of air felt by children.

Recreation, relaxation and discovery of the other

Recreation is both a space and a time that has several functions for children:

  • socialization, discovery of the rules of life, interactions with friends, friendship, feelings of love;
  • autonomy is the moment when the child will learn to put on his coat on his own, to choose his games, to go to the bathroom or to eat alone;
  • relaxation, every human being needs moments when he is free of his movements, of his speech. It is very important in the development to be able to give free rein to reverie, to games. It is thanks to these moments that the brain integrates the learning. Breathing practices are carried out more and more in schools and teachers offer yoga, sophrology and meditation workshops. Children love it.
  • movement, a moment of bodily freedom, recreation allows children by stimulating each other to run, jump, roll… to progress in their motor skills, much faster than if they had been alone. They challenge each other, in the form of games, and try to achieve the set goal.
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According to Julie Delalande, ethnologist and author of “ recreation, time to learn with children “,” Recreation is a time of self-esteem where the students experiment with the tools and rules of life in society. It is a fundamental moment in their childhood because they take the initiative in their activities and invest them with values ​​and rules that they take from adults by adapting them to their situation. They no longer take them as being values ​​of adults, but as those which they impose on themselves and which they recognize as being theirs.

Under the eyes of adults

Remember that this time is the responsibility of the teachers. Although its objective is to contribute to the development of students, it is clear that it also involves risks: fights, dangerous games, harassment.

According to Maitre Lambert, counsel for the Autonome de Solidarité Laïque du Rhône, “the teacher must anticipate the risks and dangers: he will be asked to show initiative. In a case of lack of supervision, the teacher can always be reproached for having stood back in the face of the danger that arose ”.

The layout of the playgrounds is of course thought out upstream so as not to provide any equipment that could represent a danger for the child. Slide at height, outdoor furniture with rounded ends, controlled materials without allergens or toxic foods.

Teachers are made aware of the risks and trained in first aid actions. An infirmary is present in all schools for minor wounds and firefighters are called as soon as a child is injured.

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Dangerous games and violent practices: raising awareness among teachers

A guide “Dangerous games and violent practices” was published by the Ministry of National Education to help the educational community to prevent and identify these practices.

Dangerous “games” group together “games” of non-oxygenation such as the headscarf game, which consists of asphyxiating your comrade, using strangulation or suffocation to feel so-called intense sensations.

There are also “aggression games”, which consist in using gratuitous physical violence, usually by a group against a target.

A distinction is then made between intentional games, when all the children participate of their own free will in violent practices, and forced games, where the child who is subjected to group violence has not chosen to participate.


Unfortunately these games have followed technological developments and are often filmed and posted on social networks. The victim is then doubly impacted both by physical violence but also by the harassment that results from comments reacting to the videos.

Without demonizing playtime, it is therefore important for parents to remain attentive to the words and behavior of their child. An act of violence must be sanctioned by the educational team and may be the subject of a report to the judicial authorities if the director of the school deems it necessary.

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