Not You …Again!: Helping Children Improve Playtime and Lunch-time Behaviour


Fiona Wallace & Diane Caesar

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    A big thank you to Ben, Jenny, Jerry, Joe, Pete, Rosie and Stephanie our toughest yet most supportive critics!


    About this Book

    These worksheets and activities have been devised to help teachers, lunchtime supervisors, learning mentors and others who support children in trouble at playtime and lunchtime. They focus on the playground environment and ways to improve behaviour and they link well to the Change for Children agenda as well as the five outcomes in Every Child Matters, 2004. Some of the principles that guided the development of the materials are listed below:

    • Staff must be able to deal effectively with a child in trouble without automatically attributing blame to the child or their actions.
    • Adults can help children improve their behaviour without resorting to punishment or strategies based on deprivation of pleasurable activities or learning experiences.
    • Children should take responsibility for their own actions … both those that get them into trouble and those that they can take to change their behaviour for the better. The worksheets provide a set of activities that encourage children to think about themselves and their actions in a constructive and critical manner. They provide opportunities to learn new skills that are less likely to get them into trouble.
    • No child should be written off as beyond help and neither is any child perfect. There is always the chance to develop or strengthen skills and relationships and improve behaviour.
    • Resources for busy staff must be easy to use. These sheets only need copying, which can be done freely within the purchasing establishment. The CD version enables sheets to be tailored to particular situations and put on the purchasing establishment's computer network, thus enabling easy access to the materials by a wide range of staff. The blank borders allow new sheets to be quickly designed to complement the published pack.

    The book contains a collection of worksheets that have been designed to address specific problem behaviours that occur in all playgrounds in all educational settings, such as spoiling others’ games and poor behaviour in the dinner hall. Other activities are suitable for the child who is often in trouble. These can be personalised so that schools can build up a bank of additional worksheets designed for specific problems or particular individuals.

    The materials can be used in any way that suits your particular setting. Staff may choose the sheets most appropriate to each individual child's ability, needs and the problem behaviour to be addressed. Whilst the resources are wide ranging, it is not intended that they will cover every situation that occurs. Other sanctions will still be appropriate and some behaviours will be too serious to be dealt with using these materials without additional measures. It may be relevant to link their usage to a child's individual education or behaviour plan.

    Before You Start

    The procedures agreed for the use of the materials should be discussed and be consistent with behaviour policy, practice and procedures in your setting. You should consider the following questions:

    • Who decides to use the materials?
    • Who should give out the worksheets?
    • Where are they to be done?
    • Who will supervise and record their completion?
    • What happens to the finished sheet?
    • What records are to be kept?
    • What future monitoring will be put in place?
    • When and how will parents/carers be involved?
    • How will new positive behaviours be celebrated?

    It is important that all staff have time to debate and agree the above, as consistency is fundamental to effective pupil management. You may find that as a staff group you may not share a common view. However, it is essential that you all work in the same way. In other words you may not all agree but you must all agree to act in the same way. You may find the following ideas helpful in exploring views and gaining agreement amongst staff The reference list gives additional sources of similar activities.

    Mapping Problem Behaviour

    As a whole group, produce a list of all the problem behaviours that occur in your playground. Divide into smaller groups and work together to place each problem behaviour from your list into one of the four quadrants of the diagram below. Each group should complete their own map:

    Now work together as a whole group again. Discuss each group's map. Then produce another final map showing your agreed positioning of each problem behaviour. Use this information to select which behaviours to target first.

    Agreeing Strategies

    Come up with a list of all the strategies that could be used to deal with difficult behaviour. Agree a coding system and mark each strategy according to:

    • how frequently it should be used (sometimes, often, never)
    • for which age groups
    • by which staff (class teacher, head, lunchtime supervisor, learning mentor, after- school club staff)

    Record additional comments at the side of each strategy. Formalise your ideas in writing then distribute copies to all relevant staff with a reminder to stick to the agreements made. Review this from time to time.

    Seeking Pupils’ Views

    Share your list of the most commonly used strategies for handling difficult playground behaviour with groups of pupils or the School Council. Ask the children for their views and whether they consider the strategies would work. Alternatively use your list of problem behaviours and ask the pupils to match appropriate sanctions to behaviours. This is best done in groups rather than individually.

    Observing Playground Behaviour

    Much information can be generated just by systematically watching what goes on in the playground. Pupils and staff can observe themselves and each other or you may want to ask an outsider, perhaps your school educational psychologist or behaviour support worker. You might look at the following:

    • How is the playground used?
    • What games are played?
    • Who plays them and where?
    • Does this create tension?
    • What do the staff do?
    • Do they interact with the children?
    • Where do they stand?
    • How many positive comments are made to pupils?
    • Are there any patterns to problem behaviour?
    • Are there good days and bad days? Why?
    • Where and when, exactly, do difficulties occur?
    • How is difficult behaviour currently managed?

    Make the observations over a reasonable period of time. Gather the information and discuss with pupils and staff to see if changes to current practice are needed and are feasible. Draw up an action plan indicating who will do what, by when. Don't be too ambitious. Start with one thing … in this way one small change begins to make a difference. Review what you have done and share your successes. Plan new strategies for areas still in need of further development.

    How To Use the CD-ROM

    The CD-ROM contains a PDF file, labelled ‘http://Worksheets.pdf. You will need Acrobat Reader version 3 or higher to view and print these resources.

    The documents are set up to print to A4 but you can enlarge them to A3 by increasing the output percentage at the point of printing using the page set-up settings for your printer

    The CD-Rom content for this book is included in the text of this work

    Using the Worksheets

    There are 80 photocopiable sheets. Some encourage the child to reflect on the particular behaviour that has got them into trouble, whilst others encourage the child to consider more appropriate behaviour.

    Although many children will have been sent in from the playground, completing a worksheet should not be seen as a punishment. The sheets should be enjoyable and a learning opportunity for the child. Children should be given appropriate support to complete them successfully. Working with a child provides an opportunity to discuss the problem behaviour and time out from a difficult situation to calm down. Upset, difficult or angry children are challenging; however, they need your support to complete the task and learn from it.

    Children should not be routinely denied all their break time – they need an opportunity to let off steam outside. Each worksheet should occupy a child for no more than 10-15 minutes. For those who work faster, the detailed border may be coloured in to enhance the finished sheet. Only pencils and crayons are needed and most children should be able to work independently after discussion of the difficulty and a little help to read the worksheet through and get started.

    When a child is sent in to complete a sheet they should be quite clear about what they have done wrong. It is helpful to ask the child why they are in trouble so that misunderstandings can be cleared up immediately. A worksheet appropriate to the misdemeanour can then be selected and discussed with the child. Scribing for a child may help them focus on the issue rather than their writing skills.

    Once their work is completed, the child should be praised. It is important that staff value the task and the efforts of the child, thereby helping the child remember the message contained in the worksheet. The completed worksheets should be kept as a record of work toward helping a child alter their behaviour. Consider whether the sheets might be shared with parents. The session record sheet on the page following page xiv is designed to help you with this.

    The Child who is Often in Trouble

    In every school there will be a few children who are frequently in trouble; there is always someone who always seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time!

    The child who is often in trouble may need help to see that there are alternative ways of thinking and behaving which are less likely to get them into trouble. They should learn to think about themselves and be urged to take responsibility for their actions and understand the choices they can make. Children should be encouraged to believe that they can find solutions to their problems. They should be taught that there is always the chance to develop or strengthen relationships with either their peers or the adults they come into contact with. It is likely that other strategies to manage or improve behaviour are already being implemented. Don't forget to link work to the pupil's individual programme; this could include their Individual Education Plan (IEP) or Pastoral Support Plan (PSP). It is always important and useful to liaise with others who work in your setting, as well as parents/carers and other relevant professionals.

    There are three types of worksheet in this book:

    • Those designed to elicit information about the children, for example their views about themselves, their friendships, likes and dislikes. This information may shed light on some of the factors precipitating difficult behaviour and should assist in planning for change in the child's behaviour.
    • Those designed to help the child focus on what he or she actually does at break times and, in particular, what it is that gets him or her into trouble.
    • Those designed to promote new skills and more positive attitudes.

    It may be helpful if a member of staff works individually with a child who is often in trouble, particularly if he or she is in a younger age group. They should carefully review the completed sheet with them to draw out any information that might be used to help modify behaviour and to develop a positive working relationship. Where problems are common to a group of children the worksheets could be done individually and then discussed in small groups of two or three.

    For all children it is particularly important that their work is valued by staff, signed, dated and kept safely. It is important with some of the sheets to respect information the child has given as this may be confidential or could be misinterpreted if it gets out to a wider audience, for example those whom the child dislikes or who get him or her into trouble.

    Further Reading and Resources

    There are, of course, numerous resources, both printed and online, addressing problem behaviour in the playground and other settings. A selection of those with very practical advice and suggestions is given below. Unless otherwise mentioned, the publications are available in the Incentive Plus catalogue, which is full of posters, games books and other resources (including Lucky Duck books) in the area of behaviour and emotional literacy.

    Incentive PlusTel (UK) 01908 526120
    6 Fernfield Farm
    Little Horwood
    Milton Keynes
    MK17 0PR

    Active Playtimes is written by Wendy Collin to support playtime supervisors. It focuses on old and new games to help promote positive, active playtimes. The pack contains a booklet and 25 laminated cards giving instructions for games.

    Jenny Moseley, well known for her work on circle time, has written Create Happier Lunchtimes, guidelines to help midday supervisors deal with all kinds of playtime issues. She has also published, with Georgia Thorp, a practical book called All Year Round: Exciting Ideas for Peaceful Playtimes. This accessible and practical book gives a wealth of ideas to create a new framework for playtimes.

    In Celebrations, a book of photocopiable certificates from George Robinson and Barbara Maines of Lucky Duck, there are enough certificates for every school day of the year, even in a leap year! They cover a wide range of behaviours and personality traits, including many that are not traditionally rewarded. Enjoy browsing the website at

    Those of you who want ideas for staff development activities in the area of behaviour management could get hold of a copy of 100 Activities for Behaviour Management Training Days by Dave Vizard, the founder of Behaviour Solutions. These activities have been tried and tested in schools across the country and cover issues such as understanding the importance of body language and developing a consistent approach. There is a long list of useful links on Dave's website at, from which you can also order his books.

    The ‘Framework for Intervention’ project, initiated in Birmingham, helps teachers tackle concerns about students’ behaviour in schools and nurseries, using school improvement, staff empowerment and environmental change. It works for all ages and in all settings, promoting ‘learning behaviour together’. There is also a book particularly focusing on playtimes and lunchtimes, at Project materials are available through the website or from Incentive Plus.

    For those of you who never have time to read anything other than the back of a cereal packet, there is a series of DVDs presented by Bill Rogers covering ‘Prevention’, ‘Positive Correction’, ‘Consequences’ and ‘Repair and Rebuild’. The DVDs are easy to watch and each is about 40 minutes long, presented in a different style. You could dip in and out of them but time taken to view ‘Positive Correction’ would be time well spent. Watching as a staff group may lead to a valuable discussion about managing behaviour in your setting.

    The Primary National Strategy - Excellence and Enjoyment: Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (DfES 1577 2005 G) is linked to citizenship and focuses on developing children's knowledge, understanding and skills in four key aspects of social and emotional learning: empathy, self-awareness, social skills and motivation. The materials can be freely downloaded from

    Session Record Sheet

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