Elementary School Bans Kids From Playing Tag

by Megan Zander
Image via Shutterstock/Syda Productions

Parents unhappy with principal’s decision to prevent kids from playing a childhood classic

Parents of students in California’s Gold Ridge Elementary School were surprised when they received a note last week stating kids would no longer be allowed to play tag during recess.

“I don’t personally agree with it,” Sam Hammer, a parent with two children at Gold Ridge told CBS Sacramento. “It’s something we all did as kids and I never seen any harm come from it.”

The decision was made by Principal David Frankel, who sent a note home with students stating: “Students were instructed that physical contact including tag games, touch football, etc. were not allowed on the yard.”

According to Folsom Cordova Unified School District and Spokesperson Daniel Thigpen, the note was not sent home to all students, only to a select group of parents as a result of injuries and altercation within a group of certain students. “In this case, kids were getting too rough…so the school told them to stop playing those games,” said Thigpen.”It’s not uncommon for a school to enact specific recess rules to address specific behavior problems.”

There’s a three-step disciplinary process for students who violate the new “no tag” rule. For the first infraction the student will get a warning. For the second infraction they will get a referral. A third infraction will result in a parent-teacher conference.

Teachers and school administrators have an extremely hard job, and keeping students safe is of the utmost priority. But banning tag outright is an unfortunate solution to the problem, and not just because we enjoy the nostalgia that comes with having our kids play the same games we played as kids.

On average, kids get recess for a mere 20 minutes a day. That’s a sliver of time out of an otherwise long day where they’re required to focus and sit still. It’s no wonder some of them are running around overexcited in an effort to burn though all of their energy. Tag, with all it’s sweaty sprinting, is a perfect vehicle for that. Plus tag is a pretty inclusive game. There’s no limit to the number of kids that can play at one time, and you don’t need any equipment. Everyone gets to be active at once, instead of a game like kickball when you spend the majority of the game waiting around for your turn to kick. Because tag is so simple, it allows students from a range of age groups and grades to play together. First graders and fourth graders can all get in the action at the same time.This is why the game has been so popular for so long.

Obviously, keeping kids safe takes priority over any of these benefits. But teaching kids to be gentler and more aware of how they play with others or altering the rules of the game so that it’s safer may be a better long term life lesson (not to mention better for the students’ health) rather than eliminating the game completely.