There is a group of parents at my kids' school that want to enforce a playground policy that reminds me of a prison yard. But, in prison yards, there actually is free association. The yard rules are made and enforced by the inmates.
Here is the skinny. There had been issues with older and younger kids having conflicts on the playground. When, say, the grade four kids and the grade one kids were trying to play a game of basketball or soccer together, there were multiple occasions each recess where the kids would be running to the teachers with complaints of the older kids being bossy and the younger kids following the older kids around even when the game had stopped. Understandably, the teachers on duty thought it needed to be addressed and a guideline was made that if kids were more than a grade apart, they were not to play together. This was only a guideline and only to be used as a tool for the teachers to be able to say to the kids that were complaining that they need to stop playing together because of this rule. The principal is very reluctant to designate certain areas of the yard to only certain grades. She likes that kids can intermingle, but wants a definite line that teachers can tell kids they've crossed if needed.
This, to me, is a symptom of the overprotective parenting so prevalent today. Had these kids (the younger and older ones) been left to defend themselves and think up solutions outside of the school, they would not have turned to the teachers so frequently to solve their problems. These are kids who are incapable of compromise because all of the compromising has been done for them. I can't blame the teachers for becoming exasperated with it all.
Had the issue ended there, I would be ending this post on a more positive note. However, there is a group of parents who support this and want it enforced in the most strict way possible by designating an area of the yard for each grade. I had the opportunity to talk to one of these parents and her attitude scared me. She was adamant that the only reason a twelve year old would ever associate with a seven year old would be to prey on him. After I got over the shock and was able to talk again I told her about three real life occurrences at that very school: 1 - siblings have been playing together for years without incident; 2 - a grade seven soccer guru student has been giving "lessons" to his grade four brother and his brother's friend; 3 - when my oldest was in grade two, she and her friends had a group of grade eight students help them make snowmen. This is what this group of parents are willing to sacrifice. The fact that they are perfectly willing to turn innocent TWELVE YEAR OLDS into potential predators is one of the most disturbing things I've ever encountered.
For me, the issue is over. I am not against the guideline for the teachers to use as needed. A note is going home to parents to explain exactly what the guideline is and how and when it will be used. I have a feeling that the issue is not over for the principal and the psycho group of parents. I will keep on top of it for sure. I have joined the Home and School Committee for the first time this year and hope to keep brining sanity to the insanity that can happen. I am happy to report, though, that we are planning not only a bake sale but a cake raffle. Long live the cupcake! And long live free play!