Sunday, February 7, 2016

Playing IS Learning

Well, Global School Play Day (GSPD) 2016 has come and gone. Students and faculties participated in record numbers this year; okay it's only the second year of GSPD, but you get the idea. Word spread, and this grassroots movement that began as a conversation between Tim and Scott Bedley (@BedleyBros) seems to be really taking off.

Supporting this movement was really a no-brainer for me. Over the years, I have noticed both as a teacher and as a parent the critical role that play, well plays, in a child's overall development. Play helps us hone our gross and fine motor skills, cognitive, language and social/ emotional skills. Play allows us to test certain hypotheses, indulge our creativity side, explore natural curiosities and make discoveries about ourselves and our environment. In short, play develops the whole child. Which is why it is shocking to me that there are those who guffaw at the idea of dedicating an entire day to play.

Play should be integral to what we do as educators. The idea that we need to justify the use of play in our classrooms and schools boggles my mind.  In spite of the rise of the maker movement, challenge-based and project based learning, I know there are many teachers, schools and districts that struggle with this. At their very essence, the learning initiatives listed previously are rooted in play. It seems to me that play somewhere along the way got a bad rap and that somehow play, particularly in the school setting, in of itself was not seen as "rigorous" enough activity for students. This is unfortunate indeed.

The day after GSPD I asked my students what their takeaways from the day were, and I spoke with my own children (who did not participate this year) about why they feel that play is important to them. See their reactions below.

"It's okay to make mistakes when you play. We just try to do it again. 
We put our heads together and figure it out."

"We learn how to share. We learn how to take turns. We get to try something new."
"You can get more fit. You can learn different games, and how to do different things.
Most of all you can have fun!"

So I'm putting out a challenge. If you did not participate in GSPD this year, try it next year. Here's the link to the GSPD website where you can learn more and sign up: If you did participate this year, I encourage to keep the conversation about the importance of play going and continue to find ways to incorporate more unstructured play into your school day.

Playing IS Learning!

Follow: @GSPlayDay