What is Playworks?

As many of you know we’ve had many exciting changes afoot here at West Portal this year – a main one being our partnership with Playworks.  Playworks is a non-profit whose vision is to “Create a place for every kid on the playground, a place where every kid belongs, has fun and is part of the game”. Our partnership with Playworks is their “Team-Up” program where we share our coach, Coach Sou, with three other schools.  This means that Coach Sou is on-site for one week and off site for three weeks, with Mr. Lucey picking up some of the logistical slack on the off weeks as our official Playworks Coordinator!  

One of the main goals for the Playworks program is to create a safe and fun environment where more kids feel invested and subsequently participate in games.  This entails we create a more structured recess.  Many of the conflicts Mr. Lucey and I deal with involve recess and more specifically differences in rules and game expectations.  The Playworks program creates the structures for shared game rules and expectations.  For example, we have between 4-6 different four square courts depending on the recess.  Historically, students have had different sets of rules at each court.  You can imagine the issues that arise as students move from game to game and yard duty monitors try to mediate conflicts!  This week Coach Sou spent a great deal of time teaching students “Old School” rules that are now universally understood and applied to specific four square courts.  The idea here is that we are building shared expectations that students and yard duty monitors alike can rely on to support positive game play.  

Another change is that students may no longer bring balls or play equipment from home.  One of the key components of this new recess structure is positive play that all students have access to.  Several issues arise when students bring equipment from home – things get lost, balls are kicked on the roof, disagreements erupt over who is allowed to participate in games, who sets the rules, etc.  Thus, we have allocated specific equipment for specific games.  Playworks has helped us determine the specific equipment and amounts based on their successful experiences at many schools across SFUSD.  If you would like to donate specific equipment so all children can have access to it please do not hesitate to contact Will or I to help facilitate with Coach Sou.  

Lastly, one of the most exciting aspects of Playworks is that we will be starting a Junior Coaches program in October.  Each of our six 4th and 5th grade classrooms will have several Junior Coaches. They are trained by Coach Sou and will help monitor equipment and games at all our recesses.  This is a wonderful opportunity for our kids to take on leadership roles and be a part of the solution to making recess more successful than ever!

Should you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact Will, luceyw@sfusd.edu or me, walterc@sfusd.edu.

In addition, I encourage you to check out Playworks website and learn more about their phenomenal program of which we are thrilled to be a part.