Global School Play Day. Hmm. My first thought was “That’s a good idea. Children need more time to play at school or anywhere for that matter.” Then on second thought, “What? We need a special day to play?”
What do most of us remember from our childhood? The time we were playing or the time we spent at a desk sweating over a worksheet? Sure I remember some of the time spent at my desk, but my fondest memories are playing.
Study after study is showing that children who spend more time in unstructured play (that is play not directed by an adult) have greater executive function, are more self-directed, and earn significantly higher academic grades. Not to mention, it’s just plan fun to play.
Play isn’t just for children. Current trends and standards seem to be forcing schools to squeeze every minute of work into the school day. Recesses, if not eliminated, are drastically reduced. From the earliest grades, the focus has become academic results (read good test scores). What play is allowed is initiated and supervised closely by the teacher to be sure that it is academically sound.
Even corporations such as 3M and Google see the value in allowing for free, imagination time — on the job. Each of these companies allow and encourage their employees to spend working on pet projects – playing around with ideas without the structure of someone watching over their shoulder. (“How playtime is responsible for Post-it Notes, Lasik, and more“)
California teachers and brothers, Tim and Scott Bedley, concocted the idea of Global School Play Day (#GSPD). (I wonder if they thought of this while they were playing.) They declared February 4, 2014 as the first GSPD. Schools and individuals around the country have signed on in support. In his announcement of GSPD, Dr. Peter Gray said, “It’s a day of acknowledgment that play matters, that kids need play, that our society has gone amok with testing and drilling and making kids sit in seats and has forgotten what childhood is all about.”
Next Wednesday, take at least some time, if not the whole day, to play — unplanned, spontaneous, and even without rules. Join your children, grandchildren, neighborhood kids and have fun. I think I’ll go find a mud puddle and make mud pies.
What will you do on #GSPD?