Observation Report of A Child At Elementary School Recess

This observation is of a 10 year old male child during his lunch recess
at an elementary school located in the South Bay area. The student participates
in a day treatment program for children with emotional/social difficulties. The
length of this observation was approximately forty five minutes. For the purpose
of confidentiality this student will be referred to as John. In the first
section of this observational analysis a brief description of the program which
John participates in will be given. This will be followed by an analysis of
John's activities during the observation.


The day treatment program John participates in is located on the campus
of a public elementary school, and is supported by a local private mental health
agency. In general, children referred to this program experience some form of
emotional and/or social deficit. In addition to John, there are nine other
students enrolled within the program at present. John currently attends a
mainstreaming class three times per week, where he has developed several
friendships with his peers.
This observation began as the students in the day treatment program were
let out for recess following lunch. After leaving the class John ran to the
designated play area with another student. The designated play area of the
playground where the students of this program are restricted to consists of a
"jungle bar" set ; This play structure consists of "monkey bars" with tall
vertical poles for sliding down attached at each end, three parallel bars of
varying height, and horizontal bars constructed in a ladder fashion for climbing
on. Additionally, the designated area includes a tether ball court, and a
balancing beam constructed in a "Z" shape. The staff has restricted the students
of the program to this area due to these childrens' limited abilities to
demonstrate social skills, and in order to better supervise the group during
recess activities. However, other children at the school are not restricted from
this area and interact freely with the children from the program.
After John had arrived at the play area he immediately jumped onto the
parallel bars and began to swing back and forth, and launched himself into the
air landing awkwardly almost falling down. John preceded to jump up onto the
"monkey bars." John climbed about half way across, where he was confronted with
another student who was crossing in the opposite direction. At this point John
jumped off of the bars and ran back to where he had begun, and proceeded to
attempt crossing the bars again and made it. John went back to the parallel bars
where he proceeded to swing, jumping off periodically. At one point John
attempted to gain the staffs attention to watch what he could do on the bars;
John swung himself repeatedly and then let one hand go, this spun him to one
side where another parallel bar was located, which John grabbed onto. The staff
shouted "good job John," which seemed to motivate John to repeat this trick a
few more times.
After playing on the bars for a while longer, John went over to two
other peers from his class who were engaging in pretend play. These children
appeared to be playing a game of "army combat," as they were running about
shooting each other. John ran around the play area attempting to shoot his peers
with his machine gun, and ended when they began pretending to be in hand-to-hand
combat . At this point this point the staff directed the students not to get too
physical, and the small group of children ran off.
John played with this group for a while longer, as they would shoot at
each other periodically and ran around the play area. John disengaged himself
from playing with this group as he was distracted by a nearby puddle of water.
John jumped over the puddle, and was prompted by the staff not to step in the
water. After this warning John jumped over the puddle a few more times before
picking up a stick, which he used to poke and investigate the tiny pool. John
seemed very interested in this activity, and spent approximately five to eight
minutes investigating what he had found before loosing interest and returning to
the bars.
There were more children now playing on the bars then had been earlier,
and John seemed to grow inpatient; There were about four children occupying the
parallel bars doing various tasks when John approached the bars. John waited for
a short time (about 1 to 2 minutes),