Our Approach

When students communicate through unsafe behaviours, we respond in ways that maintain safety for everyone. A non-punitive system develops Social-Emotional Learning (SEL), Positive Play, Accountability, Relationship Repair, Kindness and Connection skills so that students can experience more success during cooperative play.

How are students identified?

  • When a child repeatedly demonstrates unsafe behaviour on the playground (hitting, kicking, pushing, fighting, verbal), their free play recess is replaced with a supported, small group recess - SPARK.
  • Students are identified through a collaborative stakeholder meeting, including the student, parents/guardians, administration, teacher, counsellor, Learning Support Lead (LSL) and any other invested stakeholders.
    • A contract between stakeholders is required to participate in SPARK

How does SPARK programming work?

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The student spends a minimum of 10 days in the structured setting. During this time, the student must consistently demonstrate accountability for their behaviours, respectful body and positive play at least 90% of their duration at SPARK.

  • This ensures that the child can use safe behaviour and may move to Positive Playgrounds for five days, where they must demonstrate accountability, respect and positive play for at least 90% of their duration at Positive Playgrounds.
  • If students show unsafe behaviour at Positive Playgrounds during the five days, they return to SPARK for another five days.
  • Student behaviour (accountability, respectful body and positive play is tracked while participating in SPARK and Positive Playgrounds).

Students may also be assigned SPARK for one day after two instances of flight response or physical aggression in the classroom on the same day.

*SPARK is not a consequence tied to lack of work completion or academic performance.

What happens during SPARK-supported recess?

  • The counsellor and Child Youth-Care Worker (CYC) will take a group of up to 10 children assigned to SPARK during the time they would typically have recess.
  • During recess, students may spend some of their time working on Social-Emotional Learning, followed by practice with the specific skill they are trying to build. The other part of the time is spent playing cooperative games, where they are given directions and feedback on how to play together safely. (Menus of games can be found here or here.)

General structure:

Reflect, repair, and/or practice (Morning Recess)

  • On most days, students reflect through conversation or writing:
    • What happened? What was I trying to accomplish / Why did I react that way? What might I do next time? How could I repair what was damaged?
  • If applicable, they take steps to repair relationships or objects that were harmed.
    • This could be writing a note to a person, practicing the conversation they will have, or making a plan to repair destroyed materials.
  • They practice a skill they can use next time in the situation.
    • Students can identify different, productive ways to respond and role-play situations to try out new skills or solutions.

Cooperative games (Noon Recess)

  • Students play one or more games that require physical activity and collaboration to succeed (or to continue practicing a specific skill they are focused on).

Closing and next steps (Last 5 minutes of Noon Recess)

  • Students use their tracker to record their progress. If there are next steps (to repair), staff and students re-state those.

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