If your child struggles at decision making and overall development, Let them Play!
New programs across the country, which include at least one hour of recess daily, are showing improvement in kids’ academic abilities, socialization, physical health and moods. Recess means better overall development for children.
Neglected Play? The 1980’s Until About Last Year
For the recent past decades, recess has been neglected as an essential outlet for kids’ physical, emotional, and social wellbeing. School budgets have had prohibitive costs for extra yard supervision. Increased demands on teachers due to a denser curriculum has made it more difficult to let students out of the classroom. Larger student numbers per class and learning and/or behavior challenges have also taken up a lot of valuable time during the day.
In the 1960’s and 70’s in the US, a lot of emphasis was placed on unstructured play and character development. With a shift in focus to intense academics, this important area of development in a young person’s life has gotten shuffled under the proverbial classroom rug.
A New Perspective and Plan
A new program, called the LiiNK Project, has, positively, turned this lacking trend on its head. Instead, it’s created a way for kids to get developmental essentials—all while still meeting their academic requirements. How is this possible, you ask? A few paragraphs below will show.
Individual schools are all on board, recognizing the dire importance of recess. It allows kids to unwind, get exercise, and learn how to socialize. The LiiNK Program, specifically, allows for four separate (15-minute) intervals of unstructured play throughout the school day.
Although the program is new, early results are showing that kids are coming back in from recess ready to work. They settle in quicker because they know if they get their work done, they’ll be getting another break before too long. Another note cited from early observations is that fewer students (and on fewer occasions) have been referred to the principal for disciplinary action.
“Kids are solving their own problems more independently.” This, however, is not by happenstance. When students are at recess, they are coached on how to connect play and good character. The program requires that teachers and other “recess” staff go through training prior to implementing LiiNK. (LiiNK stands for “Let’s inspire innovation ’n kids.”)
The Cost vs. Rewards
Districts and/or or individual schools will need to spend time and money training campus staff. Teachers already involved in the program report that their time-management skills have flourished. They find they’ve been able to help the student meet academic expectations as well and social and emotional benchmarks. Both staff and children are feeling empowered and satisfied.
Another incredible discovery is that kids flippantly diagnosed as attention-deficit, appear not to be, after all. In the large scope of child development, some kids are simply just too young to sit still, especially for long periods of time. Loss of focus and fidgeting are par for the course. Structured “recess” allows for that break.
In 2013, the American Academy of Pediatrics declared that recess served as a “necessary break from the rigors of concentrated, academic challenges in the classroom.” The LiiNK Project founder took a clue from experts, as well as the school system in Finland of child development.
Finland has been ranked (over the past decade) somewhere between #1 and #5 with the finest education system in the world. (Finland, by the way, treats its teachers in the highest regard—up with doctors and attorneys.)
Playtime is necessary for both children and adults. It’s part of our motivation to work. Learning to play nice and get along with others at an early age can only benefit us individually as we age, and as a society, if we expect to thrive. The LiiNK Project hopefully acts as part of the beginning of a return to (and a forward successful glance towards) truly worthwhile, beneficial personal and societal priorities.