18 September 2023

Support students in the playground

Suggestion for implementing the strategy ‘Supporting and strengthening peer relationships’

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Support recreational activities

Support recreational activities

Teach the rules for popular playground games, as some students won't pick them up just by watching.

Organise practice sessions for students that may need support with a small group of their peers.

Support unstructured time

Support unstructured time

Unstructured times, such as lunchtimes, can create stress for some students.



  • having a small choice of organised activities for students to participate in at break times
  • providing buddies to model and mediate (if necessary) interactions during break times
  • ensuring that students know where to go to find the duty teacher or peer mediators when they are concerned or need some help
  • how to make all staff aware of the support individual students may need and how to provide it most effectively
  • outlining the school boundaries and the school rules regularly
  • providing alternative break times for junior and senior syndicates in larger schools.

Create quiet spaces

Create quiet spaces

Identify with students, indoor and outdoor spaces for quiet play or alone time.

Welcome the use of earplugs or headphones to minimise sensory inputs.

Consider the environment

Consider the environment

Work with students to identify adaptations that can be made to enable everyone to participate.


Sensory integration

Include students with sensitivity to bright light and loud noises by:

  • lowering the volume when using music
  • using soundproof headphones in the gym or hall
  • using sunglasses for outdoor activities in bright sunlight
  • turning off some lights and relying more on natural lighting or using LED light bulbs. 


Hard surfaces such as concrete may be dangerous for individuals with dyspraxia, and softer surfaces such as wood chips make it difficult to manoeuver a wheelchair.

  • Use appropriate surface, such as gym or hall, rather than concrete.
  • Use outdoor mats.
  • Adapt games and activities so all can participate, for example, play a game such as sitting volleyball or scooter soccer.

Useful resources

Useful resources


Recess for your child with special needs: 7 challenges and solutions

Read time: 6 min

This is a series of suggestions to support students with special needs to participate during playtime and lunchtimes.

Publisher: Friendship Circle Special Needs Resource Blog

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Next steps

More suggestions for implementing the strategy “Support and strengthen peer relationships”:

Return to the guide “Supporting positive peer relationships”