Rules, Rewards and Relationships

Are you struggling with?

  • Bullying and bad behaviour at playtimes?
  • Losing valuable learning time sorting out playtime disputes when children come back into the classroom?
  • Children who don’t know how to play?
  • Lunchtime supervisors who aren’t engaging with the children?

You’re really not alone and today is the best time to start to make a change.

I work with many schools to help them create a more positive playtime, for everyone. In this article, I share three of my tips and methods that have provided positive results, and you might be pleased to know we’re going back to 3R’s:


It’s really important to help the children understand that everyone involved in their care follows the school rules. Children will often think that MSA’s (midday supervisory assistants) don’t know the school rules so will try and stretch the boundaries with them!

Reminding the children, and all staff, of the rules from time to time, is invaluable. Perhaps you could even have eye-catching posters created by the children that are displayed on various noticeboards throughout the school and also on your website for the parents to see?

RewardsPositive Playtime Rewards

Did someone do exceptionally well during playtime? Could they be a role model for others? How lovely would a reward be and also an incentive for other children?

Rewards can take many formats and I have developed a range of attractive and easy to use rewards that you can see here. These include:

  • Reward Tokens: “Star child”, “Caught being good” and “Great little helper”, Playground Star Award Certificates, green Reward slips – all linked to the Playground Rules and all available here.
  • ‘The Great Play Award’: is a special certificate that is given out in assembly to a child who has kept the rules/values of the school; alternatively, it can be a plaque or just a sticker. Teachers choose criteria for selection from week to week and ideally choose different children each week.


Circle Time with Therese Hoyle

On my Positive Playtimes Masterclass, I run circle time sessions with the children while the school staff observe. The aim of these sessions is for me to find out what is going well at playtimes and the behaviours children are struggling with. Circle time helps develop conflict resolution, communication and social skills.

I suggest to schools that there is an ongoing timetable of circle time and that it is held once a week at a set time.

The start of the year is an important time to establish your behavioural systems with regards to playtimes, but if you find yourself at any stage in the academic year with problems at playtime get in touch and we can work together to create positive playtimes for all.

Rules + Rewards + Relationships = Positive Playtimes