children having fun on the swing


As an OPAL School we strive to have Creative, Challenging Play in the School Yard

An OPAL school yard may appear chaotic to the casual observer but it’s really proving to be a wonderful opportunity for our students to manage risk and push personal boundaries in a fun and supportive environment.

In the OPAL program we encourage staff to:

  1. WATCH: get a good understanding of what is going on, and if students are managing risk independently.
  2. WAIT: check-in with ourselves, weigh our fear against actual risk.
  3. MOVE CLOSER: get another perspective; see if our presence cues children to manage the situation differently.
  4. INTERVENE without SHUTTING DOWN THE PLAY: inform students about the risks and give guidelines for them to manage those risks.


Instead of saying NO –  we engage in conversation and ask:

When playing with loose parts:

“Are you still having fun? …if not maybe you should play with something/ someone else.”

“Did you check in with your partner? – is she/ he still having fun?”

“What would happen if you hit each other’s face /head/ eyes?”

“Are you aiming below the shoulders?”


When students are climbing/managing heights:


Do you feel safe?”   “What would happen if…?”    “What’s your next step?”                       

“Do you think that’s stable? How can we make that work?”

 “Look around - did you check to see if anyone near you could get hurt?”

Ask your child what they played at recess as well as what they did in class. It’s an important part of their growth and learning.

Our Three Rules of Play

1. Make It Fun for All

2. Be Safe

3. Be Inclusive