the Winskill Weekly

Together we are better 10.19.15

Are We Reacting to a Real Problem or Creating One?

I've been doing a great deal of thinking about our students and their imaginative play at recess. Based upon a recent discussion that took place at our staff meeting and then a follow-up conversation at the PBIS meeting, I am not alone in this. Unfortunately, due to a parent issue, I was not able to attend the PBIS meeting and so missed out on the finer points of the conversation.

I struggle with the thought of punishing students for pretending to shoot "finger guns" when I am not confident that we have ever taught our students the reason why some might find this form of play objectionable. Have we? Have you? I know that I have not. And if we have not done that, how can we consequence children for doing what research is showing to be a very natural part of childhood. I know that I can remember playing "Cops & Robbers" as a child, as has almost every adult I have survey. Yet I grew up to be fairly peaceful. I don't own a gun, I've never shot a gun, and I cannot see that changing in my future. We live in a community that supports gun ownership and hunting- indeed, a gun-safety course is actually taught on the weekend in our school. Several authors also point out that when we ban this type of play, children are drawn to play it more- though they hide the play. They move to other parts of the playground or give their games new names.

There is no denying that our children are inundated with violent images on the television, movies, even songs they hear on the radio. We hear of so many children dying from gun violence, there are school shootings being reported continually, yet I have not been able to find anything that connects these events to children pretending to shoot guns (in this case, fingers) while playing. I fully understand and can support teaching children that they cannot use sticks or bark as pretend weapons, as leaving those materials on the ground is one of our recess rules. I also agree with the view expressed in several articles I have attached in this week's Smore that if a child does not want to play this type of game, or expresses a fear or concern with the play, then it should stop.

I do draw the line when it comes to physical horse play. It is simply too easy for this kind of play to turn too rough too quickly.

What are your thoughts? When you have witnessed children playing the war games/shooting games, have you asked the children playing about their game? Or has it just been a quick "We don't play that here." command to stop? I'm not placing judgement on the adults- I fully understand that feeling of discomfort and "ick" at the thought of children pretending to shoot of each other. At the same time, I don't want to create a problem where there really isn't one. This is one situation that I don't have a simple answer for. I'm curious about what you think and I would love the chance to chat.

Should You Set Limits For Pretend Play?

By Lucy Rector Filppu and Keren Perles

"Bang, bang! You're dead!" Whether it's fake sword fighting, pretend gunplay, or a superhero scene recreated, parents may cringe at the idea of make-believe violence where kids pretend to kill each other. But there's more to pretend play than meets the eye, which is part of the reason you can't stop kids from doing it. Learn what pretend play means to children, and find out when you should step in. “Bang, bang! You’re dead!” In a culture filled with violent video games, TV shows and images of war, it’s unnerving to see children pretending to kill each other. But whether it’s pretend gunplay, fake sword fighting or a superhero scene recreated, there’s more to it than just violence. How can kids safely use their imagination, and when should you step in? Kids want to understand power in relationships. By killing the “bad guys,” they can, in their minds, exert some control over their world. “Model ways of problem solving that are respectful of all the parties concerned and that are not hurtful physically or emotionally,” says Marjan Wilkes, a longtime preschool teacher. “Talk about what you can do to promote a more peaceful culture.”

No study has linked pretend gunplay to future violent behavior, and Dr. Brown says studies linking superhero play to violence can be misleading. Furthermore, many child experts agree that forbidding play fighting entirely makes it more appealing—by pushing it underground, you give it more intrigue and power. Instead, allow your child to play and keep the issue open for discussion."Despite your discomfort, be careful in disciplining kids for play you find inappropriate. “The last thing you want to do is shame your child, because that leads boys to mask their feelings and act with false bravado,” warns William Pollack, Ph.D., author of Real Boys. Instead, ask open-ended questions and even play along to better understand your child’s perspective. If your child’s gunplay is too gritty or his fighting is too fierce, calmly tell him you’d like him to cool it down, and work together to find a compromise. Say, “I know you’re having fun with your pretend play, but I feel a little scared by guns. Real guns can kill and I feel afraid when you point your finger at me like that.” Pretend violence or rough-and-tumble can go over the line depending on the players involved. For example, an introverted, shy child may not feel comfortable playing with an older, extroverted, fearless kid. In this case, protect the younger child and help the older child gain the necessary social skills to make playing safe and appropriate. Kids want to challenge the world and change it for the better. Tap into that drive by making pretend play an exercise in doing the right thing. Superheroes and police put their lives on the line to help people in need and society as a whole. Point out these qualities of character to your child. Think play fighting is devoid of moral value? Think again. Take a deep breath and realize pretend fighting is a stage like any other. It doesn’t mean your child is destined for a life of crime. Curiosity and vulnerability often lie beneath the “Bang, Bang” bravado. Use the opportunity to teach your kid about the world and about his own ability to reach great heights.

Looking for activities that inspire peaceful forms of play? Try these 9 outdoor games for outdoor kids, or for the little princess in your home, do our fairy tale crafts to add cool props to pretend play.

The quote with the photo to the side is from Joseph Tobin, Ph.D.

Professor of Early Childhood Education, Arizona State University

More Resources...

Disciplining Children Over Fake Guns May Be the Wrong Lesson

Beyond Banning War and Superhero Play Meeting Young Children's Needs in Violent Times

Growing Up With Play by Jane Katch

Looking Ahead...


10/19 Monday

Kindergarten walking to the library

Brunton/Klein walking to the library 9:10-10:30

Specials Team Mtg @11:15

4K PLC @1:00

K-2 RtI @3:30 Title 1 Room


10/20 Tuesday

Sped PLC @8:15

1st gr PLC @11:00

5th gr PLC @2:15

10/21 Wednesday

4th gr PLC 8:15

3rd gr PLC 9:15

Kdg PLC @10:55

Faculty Leadership @3:30 LMC

Grade level chairs email agenda items to Leah ASAP

10/22 Thursday

2/3 Thoughtful Thursday Articulation @8:15-8:45 am

2nd gr PLC @10:20

Conference Call Off @3:30 pm

10/23 Friday

10/24 Saturday

Sweets on the Square

10/25 Sunday

FOW Movie Night

Hotel Transylvania1:00 om

10/26 Monday

Specials Team Mtg @11:15

4K PLC @1:00

3-5 RtI @3:30 pm

All 3-5 teachers are asked to attend

FOW Movie Night

Hotel Transylvania 6:00 om

10/27 Tuesday

Packer Day-wear your Green and Gold

Fuel Up to Play 60 Packer's visit

Specials Team Mtg @11:15

4K PLC @1:00

Little Caesar's unloading @1:00 pm

Pizza Pick-up @3:30 pm

10/28 Wednesday

4th gr PLC 8:15

3rd gr PLC 9:15

Kdg PLC @10:55

POPS Meeting @3:30 pm Computer Lab

10/29 Thursday

4/5 Thoughtful Thursday Articulation 9:20-9:50 am

2nd gr PLC @10:20

Halloween Parties- please plan your parties for the afternoon so as not to interfere with students' lunch appetites

10/30 Friday

No School

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