Recently, my office time has been (gladly) interrupted more frequently by the sound of joyful cheers and clattering blocks. If you've walked into our elementary during recess, you've probably also witnessed groups of children excitedly playing with jumbo Jenga blocks Rigamijigs, and other toys in the main breezeway of the school. This space was created to give our students an outlet and opportunity for something that can be overlooked in our busy schedules--free play time!
Research continues to show that play time helps students develop skills such as collaboration, negotiation, creativity, and problem-solving--skills that are labeled as "21st century skills." These skills and more will help our children be successful in an unknown future that will require adaptability and open-thinking.
In the elementary division we truly see the value of this time for students. The benefits of play are some of the reasons we extended our recess times in our schedule this year, and we've seen students who are more focused and engaged because of it. The addition of our new space and the materials in it gives more opportunities for students to step away from the traditional playground and games, and try their thinking at new activities. Over the next few months you'll hear about students playing jumbo-sized Jenga and taking apart appliances to learn how they work. We also anticipate you'll hear about new friendships and interests that develop because of this space and other work, as students gain opportunities to interact and play with one another.
Next time you are on campus, feel free to take a moment and build something using our Kapla blocks, or take a moment to draw on a pillar with our chalk. At home, you can do some of these same activities and we encourage you to give children space to have free play in their daily schedules. Play is good for us adults, too, and strengthens our relationship with our students and children. I know for me, I've loved hearing the cheers and joyful laughs of children as their towers have toppled while their friendships and skills grew.
Wishing you all well,
For more information about the benefit of play, there are a few articles that outline more for you what you can do as a parent:
Let Kids Play-from the New York Times (focus on younger kids, but a message that resonates for all children).
10 reasons why play is important-from the UK National Literacy Trust