Learning Through Play: Education does not stop when recess begins

Play Works
Curated Story
This article originally appeared on www.theatlantic.com

Galvanized by both the rollback of recess in some places and the stronger science backing play, and bolstered by a relatively new focus in education on social-emotional learning, preventing bullying, and reducing childhood obesity, recess has made something of a comeback. As recess rebounds, albeit not as swiftly as some would like, advocates have begun to make headway not only in bringing play to more schools, but in making sure that play at recess benefits all children and not just the most vocal or outgoing.

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Ashoka Insight

From all corners — academic, health, and even business (recess helps kids develop the “soft skills” that companies now find themselves trying to instill in new workers) — there appears to be a renewed focus on the possibilities when recess is done right.

“Play is the way we teach the newest members of our community the social mores that make civil society function,” said Ashoka Fellow Jill Vialet, founder of Playworks. “I think our democracy depends on it.”

Beyond that, while the economy used to depend on an education system that produced young people capable of rote memorization, of being cogs in a machine, the modern economy is much more demanding. There’s much more pressure for children to be able to problem solve and work in teams. And there’s a deeper scientific understanding that play fosters that kind of learning.

“The North Star in all of this is that play is not the alternative to learning.” In other words, recess is not a distraction from school, it is an important component of it.

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