This was originally posted on Plumfield Academy’s blog, December 2014.
We had a grandmother visit last year, and ask “Why do they let the kids have a full hour for lunch? Isn’t that a waste of time when they could be doing more work? The parents are paying good money for them to be here, and they spend an hour of that time just playing?”
It’s a fair question. In a world where the stakes are high – high school students anxiously work on their resume of extracurricular activities for their college applications, middle school students fret about high school decisions, elementary students race to after school activities and preschool students (and parents) furiously study to prepare for kindergarten – how and why do we offer an hour of free play every day?
We believe old fashion play time builds serious life skills.
Plumfield students play as children used to play: with freedom, imagination, and delight. They enjoy freeze tag, hide and go seek, and jump rope; they establish their own games of soccer, football and capture the flag; they initiate games of imagination which can go on for days; they build forts, sled, and race up and down the hills. They are very active in all seasons. Because we see play as a need, and not a luxury, our students are given one hour every day for child-driven free play in the great outdoors. See what the American Academy of Pediatrics says on the importance of play for healthy child development.
Play is a child’s work. Engaging in play that is not adult initiated allows children (and teenagers) to: develop their own creativity; work through conflicts that naturally arise; mimic and practice “grown-up life;” build confidence and leadership skills; practice the art of negotiation and compromise; balance hard work with sheer delight; learn new skills and try new things; wonder and wander about God’s creation; mull over complex and complicated ideas in the literature they are reading; enjoy the freedom of making their own choices.
Stay tuned for posts that illustrate what happens in a child’s life when they are given an hour a day to play.