Playground Sign Eases Stress Of Recess

Recess is not always fun and games for everyone. Some students struggle with the overstimulation and free-for-all that recess can be. This is particularly true for students with disabilities. District Speech Pathologist VernaAnn Kotansky saw this happening with the CHAMPS unit students at Horace Mann Elementary School. She noticed that the students have difficulty expressing themselves on the playground resulting in frustration and sometimes negative behaviors. So she decided to do something about it.
Kotansky had read about other districts using a sign with visual cues to help increase the students' success and communication. Kotansky used SymbolStix software, which generates visual support images to help facilitate faster understanding, more complete cognition, and decoding of text for individuals with disablities, to create the sign and had Lakewood's Erie Design print it with proper weather-resistant materials. The sign has been in use since the first day of school and students are using it to communicate with their teachers about how they are feeling - hot, tired, happy - and what they wish to play with - slide, ball, etc. - making recess a more enjoyable time for all.

"The presence of the communication board on the playground provides opportunities not only for those who may need this form of communication, but for others to be aware of these different forms of communication and build an environment of acceptance. All of the students at Horace Mann school have access to the communication board on the playground," Kotansky said. Kotansky hopes she is not finished with the sign project. She hopes to have them installed at all the playgrounds across the district and even the city.

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Volume 15, Issue 20, Posted 5:57 PM, 10.02.2019