Recess can be the best part of the day—or the worst part of the day. The Waukesha School District has partnered with Playworks to transform recess to support students' social, emotional and physical development. At Playworks schools, discipline incidents, bullying and injuries decrease. Students practice empathy, play energetically, and return to class ready to learn.

    What is Playworks?

    Playworks is a non-profit organization founded in 1995. Playworks is the national leader in leveraging the power of play to transform children’s social and emotional health. Playworks currently serves more than 1,200 schools across the United States. Learn more about Playworks at www.playworks.org.

    Why is Playworks necessary?

    Traditionally, older children pass down games and take the lead in modeling a culture of play for younger children. Our experience is that diminishing opportunities for unsupervised play in our society have left kids with less knowledge of traditional recess games, less experience resolving conflicts independently, and fewer strategies for making play fun, inclusive, and safe enough to avoid trips to the Principal’s office. When grown-ups or older students in leadership positions introduce basic rules and set the tone, children are better equipped to make play work. Schools that may have previously banned running or tag, or discontinued recess altogether, are more comfortable letting kids be kids, knowing that they have the tools they need to take responsibility for their actions.

    What is the Junior Coach Program?

    The Playworks Junior Coach Program (JCP) is a year-long leadership program for 4th and 5th grade students. The goal of this program is to enhance and accelerate the leadership skills of students who possess leadership qualities. Fifteen diverse students are selected to participate and are required to attend monthly leadership trainings with the Playworks Site Coordinator as well as facilitate recess games during younger students’ recess periods. Junior Coaches also learn and build skills such as conflict resolution, displaying confidence, teamwork, and modeling safe and healthy play for everyone at recess.