Ottawa

Gatineau school to test 'roughhousing' zone

Some children at a Gatineau elementary school are about to get a taste of what recess used to be like before administrators cracked down on practically any form of rough, physical fun.

Grade 3 kids at L'école du Cheval-Blanc will be allowed to engage in rough, physical play

The Commission scolaire des Draveurs didn't specify which games or activities will be allowed under the new initiative. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Some children at a Gatineau elementary school are about to get a taste of what recess used to be like before administrators cracked down on practically any form of rough, physical fun.

The Commission scolaire des Draveurs plans to set up a "roughhousing" zone at L'école du Cheval-Blanc following March break.

The initiative, already in place in other Quebec schools, will allow children to engage in physical outdoor play.

Valerie Dionne, mother of two students at L'ecole du Cheval-Blanc and chair of the school council, told Ottawa Morning host Robyn Bresnahan she applauds the move.

Valerie Dionne is a parent at L'ecole Chevalier-Blance, she chairs the governing board there and the parent council for the Commission scolaires des Draveurs. She supports the roughhousing pilot project the school will put in place for third graders starting after March break. (Stephen Hoff/CBC)

"I'd rather have them in a structured environment with adults doing something they would likely do otherwise despite our best efforts," said Dionne, who also sits on the school board's parent council.

"The students can't kick, push bite, obviously ... so it's really mostly about grabbing each other and trying to bring them down in the snow," the school's principal, Patrick Courville, told CBC.

Close supervision

Students who take part will have to undergo a training session and follow strict rules during the play periods. Activities will be supervised by a physical education teacher, and blows or gestures of violence will be off limits.

The gym class teachers are highly involved. In fact, it was their idea.- Valerie Dionne, mother and council chair

"The gym class teachers are highly involved. In fact, it was their idea," Dionne said. "[The children] will learn it in gym class, they will learn to wrestle without punches and kicks."

Dionne said the close adult supervision will prevent bullying, a concern raised by some parents.

"I think that the fact that the adults are present all the time, they will see that, they will sense that and they will talk to the kids. But yes, this is something that we will look for, but that's why it's a trial.... We'll see if it work." 

Only children in Grade 3 will participate at first. If it's successful, kids in other grades will be allowed to take part, starting next winter.

CBC's Ottawa Morning

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