“Gary, come inside it’s getting dark”. “just a few more minutes, mama”. “Tell Jackie to start home, his mother is expecting him soon”.
I recently read a report from two Long Island University Researchers, Lynn Cohen and Heather Parrott discussing their research on students enrolled in Kindergarten through the fifth grade. Their conclusion of this lengthy research project was; ‘when kids get a chance to play, they are refreshed, better focused, more on task and less disruptive at school’. This does not really surprise me . Aren’t we adults more on task and refreshed when we joke with our co-workers or engage in playful activities and discussion or just visit.
Kids who lack opportunities to play don’t get the feedback that helps them learn how to make friends. The lack of free time for children to play results in children who have a difficult time interacting with other children.
School systems have exchanged ‘recess’ for organized physical education. While Coronavirus has thrown all this up in the air, parents and educators who are worried about ‘lost learning time’ may feel that only more desk time makes sense when children return to school. However, the most crucial lessons that children learn this coming year may be those they learn in ‘play’, i.e., how to make something happen, how to solve problems, and, especially, how to make friends. Once you have friends, you’re going to have a better life at school and at home. School becomes a place where someone you like also likes you. That’s not just pleasant, especially after the social isolation of the pandemic… It’s crucial.
Every school should have some free time where children of all ages, especially kindergarten through grade five get free time in the school yard or gym to ‘play’. Yes, some adults need to be present, but they do not need to organize students’ games or resolve their arguments. Immediately after school is a great time to organize a play club
When your child arrives home after school and gets through with that snack or glass of milk, place all notepads, game books and other electronic devices on the kitchen table and tell him/her to go outside and play. If possible, occasionally invite a friend home after school or invite a neighbor to visit during this after-school time. It’s important to Let Children Play.
Excellent post, Gary. So true, especially today. I’ve often observed the lack of kids playing in the neighborhood, yet I’ve seen them carrying backpacks as if they were marching off to ‘the front’, packs stretched to their limits with enough school work to last till bedtime. Too bad.