Duplo, soccer, and origami – along with empathy and communication – are pillars of St Aloysius Catholic Primary School Cronulla’s peer-led approach to student wellbeing.

Grades are mixed during playtime, and four Year 6 students are on hand during lunch breaks to help others resolve any problems that might occur.

Year 6 student Amelia Pyne is among the ‘playground assists’ who were taught strategies to diffuse arguments and help their peers in different situations.

“It’s good knowing you are able to solve something without always having the teacher there,” she said. “Helping other kids to solve problems on the playground all comes into our initiative of service. It might seem a bit hard but it’s all about challenging yourself to make a difference.”

For classmate Will Hardcastle, ‘Wellbeing Wednesday’ also adds to playground harmony.

“Every Wednesday at lunch people can come from different classes and you can do meditation, drawing and have time to help your wellbeing,” he said.

Fair play and the ability to negotiate are among the skills gained through St Aloysius’ playground approach for Chase Dauroff.

It’s all about challenging yourself to make a difference.

– Amelia Pyne

“We’re not allowed to solve problems with our siblings because someone might think that we’re taking sides or are biased, so we have another person do that,” he said. “We negotiate. It’s saying ‘well you’ve had it this equipment for a few days, do you mind if we have it the next few days?’. That’s also a life lesson – learning that you might not always get what you want.”

Students have agency over their play space, and fundraise for equipment they’d like to use. Art, maths, and coding clubs, chess, dance, choir, origami, social justice initiatives, Lego, and board games round out options for lunchtime play.

Zara Timmins said sharing the playground with other grades also helped to develop new friendships. “Especially with soccer and on the basketball courts it’s really good,” she said. “If your class doesn’t want to play what you want to play, you can join someone from one of the other grades. You make more friends. As playground assists, we’re not there to say to someone ‘you can’t do that’. We help them to come up with their solution.”