Home | Resources | Social Inclusion in the Playground
As children progress through primary school, the importance of peer friendships and inclusion in playground activities becomes crucial to the healthy development of their social and emotional wellbeing.
When children feel invited, accepted, appreciated, and included they are more likely to perform well at school, have higher self-esteem, and engage in meaningful relationships with both teachers and students.
Social inclusion is two-fold and occurs when children:
On a deeper level, social inclusion is the understanding that all individuals are different and should be valued regardless of race, gender, religion, economic background, or ability.
Children’s play experiences change considerably as they progress through school. Their play transitions from associative play in the younger years to co-operative and competitive play during primary school. Through this transition, problems can arise with leadership, group dynamics and communication. This can result in social exclusion of students who are perceived as ‘different’ based on physical ability, appearance, intellectual capabilities, economic status, religion, or cultural backgrounds.
Teachers should support children in understanding and appreciating these differences and teach the skills and attitudes required to play inclusively in the playground. Social inclusion doesn’t mean that students must play with everyone all the time, but they do need to know how to make others feel welcomed and included in the playground.
Being excluded can have significant and negative effects on a student’s physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing. This can result in issues such as lower self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and aggression. To avoid this, it is vital that our children are taught prosocial behaviours as early as possible, such as empathy, teamwork, helping others, communication skills and social acceptance.
While inclusion policies guide all Australian schools, here are some other practical ways to promote and support social inclusion in the playground:
“Thanks for asking me (positive), but I want to play on the fort right now (negative). I can play tag with you next lunch break (positive)”.
National Council of Social Service – Let’s Play Together: A fun and Simple Guide to Conduct Inclusive Games for all.
NSW Government Office of Sport – Indigenous Traditional Games
Social skills are important tools that your children need in order to communicate and interact with others to conquer their daily challenges.
Simple tips for parents to teach their child to play more inclusively.
A helpful guide for parents to encourage positive behaviour in children to support healthy relationships, communication and social skills.
You can help support your child to develop social skills by encouraging and working with them to understand the importance of socialising.
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