When a child is asked, “What is your favorite part of school?”, what is the most common answer? Recess!! Why do you think recess is the answer to this question? Think about what happens at recess. First of all, it is a time of freedom. During recess students are not told what to do, rather they are allowed to make their own choices. Secondly, recess is nothing but play. Check out my 5 reasons why educators should harness the power of play in their classrooms.
1. Play is natural for kids. Kids have spent their entire life playing. In fact, until they start school, kids are experiencing the majority of their world through play. So, think about how you can use something that is natural for kids, to enhance their learning experiences at school?
2. Play provides a risk-free environment. Since kids have been playing their whole life, they feel safe during play. Play allows kids a chance to take risks in environments that are safe for them.
3. Play develops social skills. Kids are able to develop their social skills while playing. Play provides an environment where kids learn to pick up on social and emotional clues/cues. The social skill development that begins in play can then be further developed in the classroom. These skills can then be used to help students expand and deepen their reading and writing skills.
4. Play develops problem solvers. Problems arise throughout play time. Kids are then provided with the opportunity to solve the problem on their own. Play provides a safe environment for kids to develop their problem-solving skills.
5. Play offers student choice and ownership. Play is a way to empower kids through choice and ownership. Teachers may provide play stations that are tailored to classroom content, but students choose the play station that they want.
I have seen morning work replaced with play stations and it has had a positive impact on students. Play provides a positive start to their day and gives them choice and ownership from the start of the day. Students have learned to self-regulate throughout the play time. They have even become problem finders and problem solvers. How can you harness the power of play in your classroom?