Primary education: listening and observing
Primary education: listening and observing

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Primary education: listening and observing

3 Playtime supervisors

In the interview with Daniel and Isla, and in the reading ‘Football pitches and Barbie dolls’, you heard children express their likes and dislikes about their school playground and playtimes.

If you were an adult playtime supervisor in the playground, how would you use this information to make playtime a better experience for more children?

Activity 5 The views of two playtime supervisors

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

Now you’ll hear two playtime supervisors give their views.

In the video, Jackie Pratt and Carole Lowry talk about what they do as playtime supervisors and the learning environment in the playground that they try to provide. As you watch and listen, notice their shared approach to their jobs, how they organise play activities for the children, and how they relate to the children and to each other. How do they use observation and listening in their jobs?

Please note that the video contains some still images alongside the audio and some children’s faces have been blurred to protect their identities.

Download this video clip.Video player: Video 4
Skip transcript: Video 4

Transcript: Video 4

[CHILDREN PLAYING]

CAROL
When on the playground, you've got to make sure they have a good play time and good lunch times. Because if they had a bad moment in the classroom, and they come out and they're in bad moods and they don't want to play, and you've got to get them to get over that and join in all the games. And some days you can spend quite a while just talking them around, oh, come on. Go on and play. Yeah, maybe you didn't do so well at your maths this morning, but that doesn't really matter. Because you're allowed to get things wrong. Look at your friends over there. They want you to play. Shall we go over and play with them? And you do, you coax them all the time. And then hopefully, they go back up to the classroom in a better mood. It's hard work at times, because you wonder if they will they're not strollops and they don't want to. They won't go back. But you can manipulate them a little bit do things you want to.

[CHILDREN PLAYING]

JACKIE
Carol and I actually make a very good team.
CAROL
I'll have to agree there, I think.
JACKIE
There's lots of dinner ladies in the playground. But you always get two that, perhaps, think alike, which we do. We both feel the same about the children. We're both silly enough to get down and play with the children.
CAROL
You've got to come to their level.
JACKIE
Yes.
CAROL
You must come down to their level.
JACKIE
Definitely.
CAROL
To make it all worthwhile, haven't you? You play the games with them. It doesn't matter if you make a fool of yourself. Because they don't care, the children don't care because you're joining in with them.
JACKIE
Sometimes it's important that you get in there and you play with them, so that the ones that aren't so up front will come along and ask and say, can I play? And you say, well of course you can! And once you let one in, they all start coming in then.
CAROL
And it's good for the older children to learn to look after them a little.
JACKIE
Yeah, to respect them.
CAROL
Yeah, yeah. And they know they have to be gentler with them. You, know they can't rush about, knocking them over. They've got to be more careful.
CHILD
Keep it steady.
JACKIE
Leave it steady. That's it. You've got the idea. That's it. That's it. That's it.
We've got it. Pick up this end a little bit.

[CHILDREN PLAYING]

Down your end, quick!

[CHILD LAUGHS]

CAROL
The parachute game, I think that's a favourite one at lunchtime. That is the one they all love to be --
Yeah, they all-- we try to not get it too overcrowded.
CAROL
But it doesn't work.
JACKIE
They just, yeah they just went mad today. They just all wanted to have a go on it. And I thought to myself, there's no way I'm going to have control over this today. I've lost this one. But, no. They were good. I mean, considering how many there was playing, they were good. Only one person under there today, because there's so many of us, it's going to get dangerous. So--
CAROL
We're going to need to trust them all, though. We've got to understand that if you get them into trouble for something, tell them all that they can still come back to you, and that you won't, you know, hold it against them. You know, you could have a couple of boys fighting, and you send them in. Say, you've gotta go in for five minutes, you know, think about what you've done and come back outside. Come and see me and we'll sort it out. And they've got to know that you're not going to take sides, that you're going to hear both points of view.
JACKIE
We never label anybody naughty. We're always encouraging them. Of course, there were so many on the parachute, yeah. But it was--
CAROL
I was watching you, I was watching you, love.
JACKIE
I think, it's good. When you work as a team, you watch out for one another.
CAROL
Yeah, you do.
JACKIE
And I think the kids benefit more. Because obviously, you know, you usually have two to each thing.
CAROL
I mean both of--
JACKIE
If you've got one playing, one sort of going around looking for the lonely child or--
CAROL
Yeah.
JACKIE
--but we do, we try and get involved and look out and chat with them as well.
CAROL
And then we decide what games we're going to bring out. And say, look we have this game today. There weren't too many playing with the hoops yesterday, let's try something new. And it's just ideas all the time.
End transcript: Video 4
Video 4
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Discussion

The two playtime supervisors talk about how they observe children’s moods and feelings as they come out of the classrooms for playtime. They adjust their playtime plans and activities based on their observations. They encourage children to participate, share and respect one another. They emphasise that children must trust the adults in the playground and see the adults as impartial and fair.

Next, you’ll look at playground design.

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