One School Bans All Hands-On Games at Recess, Even Holding Hands

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Last week on my youngest son's Kindergarten field trip, I told his teacher that all Kindergarten teachers deserved a bonus. Why? "Kindergarteners are handsy!" And they are! Four different kids held my hand and pulled me to look at pumpkins and alpacas and other things. All of the kids were all up in my grill, not yet understanding the concept of personal space. I felt more touched out at the end of the field trip than when I nursed a baby through a growth spurt. I needed some time alone! All the handsy-ness is just part of a Kindergartener's learning process as they begin to learn about life and space and rules and such, right? Sure! Unless you're a Kindergartener at Coghlan Fundamental Elementary School in Langley, B.C. as they just instituted a "Zero Tolerance No Touching Rule."

No. Really.

In a letter sent home to parents, the fact that a number of injuries have resulted due to "hands-on play" during outside recess time is given as a reason for the ban on ALL hands-on play games. No tag. No Star Wars games. No hand holding. Nothing. And zero tolerance to boot. These four- and five-year-old kiddos will lose their recess time or, horrors, be sent to the principal's office if they're caught red handed. Pun intended, because give me a break.

Go ahead and try to ban hand-holding between Kindergarteners, boys or girls. It's just what they do. They gravitate toward one another, their hands find each other. It is the sweetest, most innocent form of connection that remains in our young children. That desire to connect, to touch, to be with your friend wears off as soon as the next grade, when they've been made aware by well-intentioned adults that only people in love hold hands. Which is bunk, by the way, but I digress. Telling children not to hold hands is not only silly, but it's darn near impossible to enforce. I mean, I sure hope these little kids don't decide to get all willy-nilly and play Ring Around the Rosie. God forbid!

One School Bans All Hands-On Games at Recess, Even Holding Hands
Credit: jbird.

Beyond that, the letter instructs parents to encourage other forms of imaginary play at home -- ones that don't involve fighting like the problematic Star Wars games they had been seeing. Okay, fine. But their logic is flawed, or they would have only banned fighting games and not tag. The problem with handsy Kindergarteners is that they are super enthusiastic about everything they do. So when they're playing tag, they are running full force to tag their friends. That results in some kids accidentally pushing other kids and falling down. No tag? Well then, no kickball either because what if a kid runs too hard to first and knocks another kid over? Or the ball is thrown too hard to get a kid out? We wouldn't want to play any imagination games that involve any form of fighting. No knights of the roundtable! No pirates on the high seas! No spy games for these kiddos!

If we're trying to curtail all problematic school yard injuries, let's also ban jumping rope, because a child could trip and fall down and become injured. No running on the playground, because they could trip. You know what? No slides or swings either. Too dangerous! Let's all sit quietly and breathe deeply, but not too deeply because we wouldn't want to choke on air.

You get my point.

The spokesperson for the school says that the mandate is temporary. I understand the school wanting to stop some of the more out-and-out fighting games, but it sounds like dealing with those on a case-by-case basis makes a little more sense than the banning of touching. Safety is important and schools should be taking steps to make sure kids aren't being harmed on the playground by games that start innocently and progress to something bigger and more dangerous. But tag? And holding hands?

Good luck with that.


Family & Events Section Editor Jenna Hatfield (@FireMom) blogs at Stop, Drop and Blog.

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