PLAY has long been recognized as a necessary mediator of healthy human functioning. It is a central component of all developmental theories. The United Nations High Commission for Human Rights recognizes PLAY as an essential right of every child.
Given that most children are in school most of their day, most days, for most of their childhoods....consider: The challenges: Children let us know that it is difficult to play, be active, and connect with their friends during recess. WHY? Minimal supervision, crowded conditions, little equipment, social conflict, exclusion, bullying, boredom and discipline issues are getting in the way of PLAY.
Opportunities for play at school are compromised by safety concerns, liability issues, minimal funding, accountability pressures
Complicated social landscapes increase stress and make it difficult for children to engage in meaningful play
Daily stress can compromise coping resources and trigger maladaptive thoughts and behaviour
Have a second look at some urban school playgrounds: tiny, barren, soulless, asphalt.
What we can do:
Spaces to play: children need spaces that are more conducive to play (both indoor and out).
Variety: elementary school children are of mixed ages, stages, temperaments, and social skills. Activities should fall on a continuum from structured to unstructured, individual to group, active to calm.
Think: areas for random free play, lots of equipment, safe spaces for individual play and relaxation, natural materials (trees, logs, sand, rocks, grass); guided activities like yoga, soccer baseball, zumba, dance, dodgeball, volleyball, organized games; spaces to play: equipment and activity stations,