Guidelines for Expected Child, Youth and Adult Behaviors while on the AUUF Playground Based somewhat in the UU 7 Principles:
- The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
- Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
- Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
- A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
- The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
- The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
- Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
…and “child version:”
- Each person is important.
- Be kind in all you do.
- We’re free to learn together.
- We search for what is true.
- All people need a voice.
- Build a fair and peaceful world.
- We care for Earth’s lifeboat.
Guidelines for children:
- Each person is important. Everyone on the playground on any given day has a right to be there, as well as a right to enjoy a place that is safe and welcoming. Children need to be guided toward being both aware and respectful of each other. This includes accepting that the playground is a shared space with children with a wide range of ages and abilities using it.
- Be kind. Help each other—if you see someone in need, come to their aid yourself or quickly bring the situation to adult’s attention. Since we want the playground to be welcoming and safe for all there is no hitting, pushing, angry yelling, threats, or namecalling. These are hurtful actions and do not help others feel safe or welcomed. Setting up a play space or game that intentionally excludes someone (“No! You can’t play with us!) is also unkind and hurtful.
- Learn together and search for what it true. We need to accept each other’s “individual search” which does not mean that we have to agree with everyone all the time but children will need to be guided toward listening as others present an opposing view and attempting to resolve it respectfully and fairly for all.
- Need a voice. Children will need to be guided toward listening to each other as well as speaking up for themselves.
- Building a fair and peaceful world. This is where I would put, “Gun play, or pretending to shoot each other, does not model a peaceful world and should be actively discouraged at all times.” I would also suggest that this is a rationale for the paid supervisor to provide cooperative games and activities for the children to do.
- Interdependent web. Maybe proper care and use of playground equipment is a bit of a stretch under this principle, but perhaps it is a legitimate placement. It would include using the equipment creatively but not in a manner that could cause it to be damaged or break (i.e.: dumping plastic vehicles and other toys off the top of the climbing structure, or bashing items with the plastic bat). It would also include assisting with properly putting the toys away at the close of the playground time.
Guidelines for volunteer adults:
Generally, be informed, engaged, aware, intervene as necessary, facilitate children’s play, elicit ideas/help from children and youth.
- Informed: Ask paid playground supervisor where s/he would like for you to work, area to supervise, what games to play, etc.
- Engaged: The task of the playground volunteers is to be actively engaged with the children, talking with them, playing with them, facilitating their play, suggesting alternative activities. The tasks do not include standing and talking in a cluster with other adults unaware of what is going on with the children, or being a bench warmer (or terrace step warmer).
- Aware: By being near the children’s activities and play areas, the volunteer adults will be more likely to be aware of potential and actual hazards or problems as they arise.
- Intervene as necessary: When a conflict or problem arises, define what you saw (“Whoa! I just saw you throw that wheeled toy off of the climbing structure!”), explain why that is a problem (“When the tractor hits the ground from that height there is a good chance that it could get broken,” or “Little Squirt here was walking under the structure just as you dropped the tractor. Falling vehicles make this area unsafe for our littlest folks, so we have to work to make this a safe place by not dropping toys off of the climbing structure.”).
- Redirect: Solicit ideas from the perps about how that problem can be solved. If they are not able to come up with a reasonable solution, suggest one of your own with authority and firmness.
- Facilitate children’s play: This can be done by playing with them, suggesting materials they might use, helping resolve disputes, suggesting new ways to address an old concept.
- Elicit ideas and help from children and youth: Whenever possible, in both peaceful and not so peaceful playground times, ask the kids out there for their input, suggestions, ideas that will move all toward the specified goal.
As the playground is a shared space, everyone must be aware of the most vulnerable—the youngest and littlest ones. Ball games, in particular, put them at risk. Volunteer adults must be aware of the little ones at all times.
- Define toddler play space (infants to under 3 years)—there is a nursery facility set up for infants through 3-years-old. The playground space is NOT a safe play area for children that young, especially with the wide range of ages of children that use that area. Children 3 years and younger must stay in the nursery.
- Define “teen” space—where is it they can go to be “alone” as teens feel they need to do? They still will need to tell the paid supervisor where they are.
- All children must learn to tell (ask) the paid playground supervisor whenever they leave the fenced area. What should be the rules governing that event?
- Climbing structure—as younger, less able children will mimic older, more able children, the able climbers cannot climb, sit, walk on the top supports of the climbing structure. As has already been mentioned, there is insufficient cushioning underneath the structure, so a fall from that height could have serious consequences for even the most able climber.
- Tire swing—until the supports of the swing are spaced further apart, children on the swing must sit (not stand) on the swing and cannot lean out.
General suggestion regarding paid supervisor:
- Assign volunteers a specific game or activity to supervise, or an area to be “in charge of.”
- Circulate around and through all areas of play. Engage in the children’s activities. Assist volunteers with interventions as needed.
- Facilitate children’s spontaneous play.
- Provide periodic structured activities (cooperative games, silly relay races, art experiences, building opportunities, etc) a couple of times a month that the children can chose to do for variety and excitement.
- Provide snack—determine if getting snack from coffee table is OK or not.
Respect for Others:
- Play Safely. Avoid pushing, tackling games, wrestling, kicking, fighting, blocking others’ activities, throwing rocks, sand, wood chips, equipment, etc.
- Be Aware. Do not interrupt others’ games. Look before you leap. Watch out for children smaller or younger than yourself. Wait for others to finish their turn at something before you take yours.
- Include others in your games and activities and consider their ideas during a game.
- Follow the Rules. If you have a problem or a complaint that you cannot resolve for yourself, seek out an adult on duty for guidance. Listen to and follow the adult’s recommendations.
Respect for Materials, Tools and Equipment:
Use all playground materials, tools and equipment for what they are intended.
- Do not climb up the inside or outside of any slide.
- One person should slide at a time and then move away from the base so that others may have their turn.
- Do not slide toys, rocks or sand down the slide.
- Avoid pushing, pulling and crowding on the ladders.
- Allow others to climb at their own speed.
- Do not jump from towers.
- Do not throw items from the towers.
- Do not drop items onto another’s body from the tower.
Play ground Items:
- Avoid throwing items.
- Do not toss items outside of the playground area.
- Do not intentionally misuse items or break toys.
- Notify an adult if an item is broken or in disrepair.
Respect for the environment:
- Stay within the fenced area as directed by the playground supervisor.
- Avoid bouncing off of and climbing on the fences.
Bushes, Trees, Plants, Grass:
- Unless you are gardening avoid digging in, pulling on, picking at, and breaking off vegetation.
- Any digging of holes must be filled at the end of playtime in an appropriate manner to avoid injury to others and yourself.
- Assist with putting play items away in their proper space at the end of the play session.
- Cover sand boxes at the end of each session.
- Set a good example for other, smaller playground members. Something that might be safe for you might not be safe for others.
- Shoes must be worn at all time on the playground.
The Playground supervisors and volunteers are in charge of the playground. If someone on the playground is not following the rules the supervisor(s) may choose a consequence, such as:
- Assigning a time-out
- Returning the rule breaker to the Fellowship for the rest of the day