Allow Make-Believe Play at Colorado School

Target: Thompson School District Superintendent Dr. Stan Scheer

Goal: Change policy to allow freedom of make-believe play for children

Recently, a 7-year-old boy was suspended from his school because while playing, he threw an imaginary grenade. He was playing a game of make-believe that he called “Rescue the World”, and as part of the game pretended to throw a grenade into an empty sandbox. He was suspended because the school has a zero-tolerance policy against weapons. The boy’s family is upset over this policy, claiming that it should not extend to imaginary weapons. A seven year old boy should not have been suspended simply for playing a game of make-believe.

Alex Evans was playing alone at his school when he threw the imaginary grenade. The young boy explained to reporters that he did not aim the “grenade” at anyone, and he did not throw anything real. He claims all he did was make a “pshhh” sound. He was immediately suspended from his school for this game of make-believe. There was no real or imaginary harm done to any other person, yet Evans was suspended for this game.

Evans was suspended because his elementary school has a zero-tolerance policy for violence, including “real and play”. However, Evans’ mother protests that this policy is confusing for children. It is not realistic for children to understand the fine line that separates acceptable make-believe from unacceptable. Evans was not hurting anyone with his actions, yet was suspended anyway. The policy at this school is too strict and prevents children such as Evans from engaging in make-believe. Tell the school district to define this policy to allow make-believe play.


Dear Dr. Scheer:

Recently, a 7-year-old boy was suspended from Mary Blair Elementary School for throwing an imaginary grenade. The school has a zero-tolerance policy for violence, and this apparently extends to imaginary play. The young boy was not seeking to harm anyone with his actions, but was suspended despite this. He was told that the way he was playing is unacceptable.

I ask you to define the zero-tolerance policy for violence. Children should have freedom to play whatever make-believe games they can imagine without fear of punishment. The imagination of a child should be encouraged by the school, instead of limited. No harm was done in throwing an imaginary grenade. Redefine the policy to ensure that no other student will be punished for a harmless act.


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