"Children experience an environment where their play is valued as meaningful learning and the importance of spontaneous play is recognised" - Te Whariki (1996)Recently, we have seen a surge of primary school educators embracing 'play' in their classrooms. The Learning through Play Facebook group has over 7000 educators committed to implementing play in their schools. There's a good reason for this too, as seen in the quote below:
"When children spend more time in structured activities, they get worse at working toward goals, making decisions, and regulating their behaviour, according to a study" - excerpt from
So what does this mean for me in my practice?
The ongoing pressures of assessments, achievement in reading, writing, and math can be overwhelming in primary schools. My gut knows that 'play' is so important for children. However, trying to balance everything out in a day can be so tricky! When I truly let go of the structure and let the children 'play' with no agenda in mind - great things happen!
This article "Why every kindergarten and first-grade school day should begin with inquiry and imaginative play" by Olivia Wahl confirmed my hunch about play.
We must have a mindset shift in this country. A shift from seeing schools as buildings that children attend to understand reading, writing, math, and social sciences to schools as part of our communities where children develop understandings of the world around them and social-emotional skills that will help them thrive and communicate their ideas with others. I truly believe if there is not ample time allotted for our children to begin every day exploring, playing, and building social awareness, we are failing them.Term 3 will bring an opportunity to reassess my planning and classroom curriculum and look at what will make a difference to children's life-long learning.