Five years ago, the first annual Global School Play Day was celebrated as the kick off of a grassroots initiative to raise awareness about the necessity of unstructured play. This week, Pinewood students were counted in the 563,283 students from 75 nations who participated in a Play Day at school.
If you walked into some of these classrooms yesterday, you might have thought “all play and no work” was happening. However, this unstructured, self guided play is allowing our children to develop socially, emotionally and hone problem solving skills. Play is an important part of learning and these are necessary skills that will be used for the rest of their lives.
Global School Play Day gives the students an exciting opportunity to let play take over the classroom for a day. Teachers encourage students to bring toys from home to share with their friends in class. They leave the devices and battery operated fun at home (which is easier for some). It also encourages some of the older kids to reacquaint themselves with toys and hobbies they haven’t enjoyed in a while.
Teachers and staff arrange the day and invite the toys, but nothing is organized beyond that. Children receive no adult instruction on how to play the games or who to play with.
Shanna Richey, Pinewood Kindergarten teacher enjoyed supervising her students and observing a special kind of leadership emerge from some of them. “Their faces just lit up as they were able to lead in sharing their toy. Some students had to explain how to play a game from home. It was so much fun watching each child find ways to share and play with others. I have had some very shy kids blossom on this day because they are able to lead in a new way of sharing their toy.”
While some students found a new game or toy they really enjoyed, and some even found a new depth of friendship through this experience – everyone agrees, they can’t wait for next year’s play day! Play is a way of communicating and connecting so let me encourage our students and families to keep this sort of play alive!!
Dr. Peter Gray, Ph.D. is a research professor at Boston College. His current work focuses primarily on children’s natural ways of learning and the life-long value of play. In his TEDx lecture, Peter Gray clearly argues the case that today’s kids do not play enough and this has impacted them negatively. In the past 60 years, quality unstructured play has declined, while society sees a gradual increase in anxiety and depression in children and adolescents.