News / Calgary

Calgary teacher's letter says students need to 'stop chasing games' at recess

Dismayed parents took to social media Thursday to condemn a letter sent home to a Calgary parent from a public-school teacher in which she advocated against any recess activities involving "chasing."

Father David Kemlo told Metro he could hardly believe his eyes as he scrolled through the teacher's concerns about the activities of his six-year-old son during a recess session at his southwest elementary school Tuesday.

The educator, who Metro agreed with Kemlo not to name, indicates that a child became hurt or upset during a "chasing game," and said she would be discussing "strategies" to prevent future occurrences.

"Chasing is dangerous because we lose control of our bodies and others get hurt, as they did today" she wrote. "Both children chasing and the children being chased have a responsibility to stop chasing games. If they cannot do this independently they are encouraged to see a supervisor."

But dozens of parents took to Facebook to express frustration related to the over-protection of kids; some even decried the apparent assault on popular recess pastimes like tag.

For his part, Kemlo deemed the letter "silly."

"To take the time to print out the generic letter and use all these general terms and you're going to sit down and have discussions with six-year-olds about strategies? Like, give me a break," he said in an interview. "It's a little ridiculous."

South of the border, some school boards have enforced outright bans of tag games, cartwheels and various activities involving balls citing student safety.

But the Calgary Board of Education said in an email it does not have system-wide policies concerning recess activities.

"The CBE encourages principals and teachers to look for opportunities to encourage safe play and the prevention of injuries," an unidentified spokesperson said. "These situations are managed at schools and in classrooms on an ongoing basis."

The teacher who penned the letter does advocate for activities where students can "play nicely," identifying "freeze tag" and "imagination games" as examples.

Kemlo did pull down the letter off Facebook Thursday afternoon because it contained the teacher's contact information, but said he stood behind his initial criticism.

Buzz Bishop, a parent blogger with seven-year-old of his own at home, said the teacher's intent may have been valid, but deemed the wording in her letter "terrible."

"Running around and chasing each other — what's wrong with that?" he said. "It's kind of what they (kids) do."

Bishop said it's important for kids to understand boundaries when they're horsing around and for parents to teach them proper methods to avoid getting seriously hurt.

His own son has taken up skateboarding recently and Bishop admits he found a survey just this week by the Solutions Research Group that found parents perceive the four-wheeled extreme sport as being the most dangerous for youngsters.

Even still, he said he's persisted with safety training, even having his son roll down a steep hill towards a tree to learn proper speed and braking controls.

"We can let our kids be dangerous as long as it's in safe environments," Bishop said.