Thursday, May 3, 2007

Free Play: "Children can do something or do nothing."

Question from a Play Nice Newsletter Reader.
What are your thoughts on free play?

Free Play at Recess:
At Peaceful Playgrounds we contend that a child can decide how he/she chooses to spend recess time. We are adamantly against telling kids what to do at recess. We support their right to do something or do nothing. We believe that “enriching the playground environment” brings about a multitude of positive results (see Peaceful Playgrounds Research for more info regarding reducing bullying, increasing children’s activity level, reducing playground conflicts, reducing playground injuries etc). “If you add games and markings, teach children consistent game rules and how to play the games children will choose to be active most the time,” according to Peaceful Playgrounds President and creator Dr. Melinda Bossenmeyer. Recess is after-all the time in the school day when children are most active. Our data indicates, (See Pep Grant SDCC Study) that about 65%+ of children were active at recess when recess games and markings were added and the playground games taught. Schools sometimes have a tendency to “regulate” recess due to behavior concerns. This sort and separate strategy may provide temporary relief but the solution will be short lived. For example, some schools advocate 1st grade gets the tetherball courts on Monday, 2nd grade on Tues and the playground is sliced and diced and children rotate between activities once a week. This type of regulation is counterproductive. Instead, why not read up on the Peaceful Playgrounds research and begin addressing the real problems such as: 1. children need developmentally appropriate games painted on the playground, 2. teach children a consistent set of game rules and how to play the games, 3. teach children some problem solving techniques for the playground, 4. make sure children have enough equipment to be active (balls, bean bags, ropes etc.) and 5. implement playground strategies schoolwide. Why not take 12 minutes and view Peaceful Playground video on website? Click here to go to online video.

I’ll close with my favorite play quote: “We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.”

How about it???? Do your students have free play at recess? Leave your comments and thoughts below.


CHECK BACK FOR tomorrow’s Blog. What about “free play” during PHYSICAL EDUCATION CLASS?