The school playground isn’t a place you’d associate with loneliness, at least not at recess when it’s filled with children having fun. The reality is, the playground can be a place where any child can feel like they’re alone without a friend. Most of the time, it’s not that the other kids deliberately leave a child out. Kids get busy playing with their closest friends and often forget about including everyone. With the Buddy Bench now showing up on many schoolyards, it’s a great time to put a few rules in place so the adults can help the kids understand how this heartwarming piece of outdoor school furniture works. Read all about the bench that’s bringing a new sense of camaraderie to a playground near you.
Make the Bench Stand Out
This rule is designed more for the adults than the kids, but you can always ask for input. Make the bench stand out from the other outdoor furniture on the playground. This bench has a specific purpose; it’s not a gathering place or a lunch stop. It’s a place where a child goes when they feel lonely and want someone to talk to or play with. Consider adding a Buddy Bench plaque to the back of the bench. It’s a great reminder of what the bench is for, and serves as a marker for the new kid on the playground.
Try to Find a Friend First
As a teacher or playground helper, you’ll notice times when the Buddy Bench looks crowded. That’s because it’s a comfortable place for kids to socialize. While it’s great to see the kids enjoying each other’s company, the purpose of the bench is to alert the other kids that a friend needs a friend. Teach the kids to seek out a friend first and to use the bench only if they can’t find a group to join.
Sit and Wait
It’s hard sometimes for kids to have patience, but it’s what they may need while sitting on the Buddy Bench. Talk with students and set expectations. It might take a few minutes for a child to be noticed. Kids are intense, and when they play, they take the game seriously. It’s easy to block out, and sometimes, flat out ignore anything else going on around them. Encourage kids to sit and wait for more than a few seconds before feeling discouraged if they’re not invited to play.
Look for a Buddy Bench Friend
When a student sees another child sitting alone, it’s time to walk over and ask that child to play. Most kids need help developing empathy skills. When they make it a point to notice other kids and relate to how it feels to not have anyone to play with, they’ll grow into more compassionate and thoughtful people. On the other side of the bench, if a child is waiting for a friend, they accept the first invitation to play. No picking and choosing!
Adults Participate Too
Not all children will work hard to notice a child waiting on the bench. That means the adults on the playground keep an eye out, and if no one invites a child to play, they help the child find a friend. The Buddy Bench for schools is an effective tool, but for it to work, sometimes the adults must step in and help. If you’re ready to help the kids at your school to make friends, contact Outdoor School Furniture for a quote on the best bench to show up on the playground in years.