Day 31 (of 188) free play to start the day
So, we are starting with something we “played around” with last year: free play. It came from an article on “deep play” https://www.nytimes.com/books/first/a/ackerman-play.html and then some related ‘trying it out’. It was hard to ‘let go’ but some of the goals of our district self-regulation guru @laurapaiement were achieved:
-no lineups; kids were/are always in motion – though if they need a break, they get/take one!
-red faces; kids are working hard. Today even had a kid just lie down for a few minutes.
-high heart rates (not too high) – being active for 45ish minutes is a great way to start the day
-the freedom to ‘play’ with their peers – a group of ball hockey kids made me reflect how much I played as a kid and how it helped ‘us’ without really realizing it at the time!
-providing ‘free choice time’ along with ‘specific activities’ around fitness and wellbeing – a loose tight connection – but the ‘full free days’ are pretty cool to see…
And then today another article came to me while we were in the gym: http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2014/06/can-free-play-prevent-depression-and-anxiety-in-kids/ & that made me feel good.
Now, in fairness we do play a lot of music in the gym – I like linking up Disney Radio via Sirius but we also have a CD with some new tunes that the kids like to move to. Today I had to pop into the office (across the hall) and a parent who was in for morning call-backs (checking on absent students) commented how much she liked hearing music from the gym: “It’s not like when I was in school”. My secretary even teased me that while she could hear the music, it was louder when other teachers were in there….challenge accepted!!
And we should be doing things different than ‘when we were in school’. We have learned a LOT about the brain and about the body. There are more studies about physical literacy (yes, I still get eye rolls when I mention this literacy, but body awareness is key in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy – a key to fighting anxiety) and how physical breaks help out – supporting ‘movement breaks’ throughout the day (Finland does 45 minutes learning with a 15 minute ‘free’ break); and starting the day with some physicality is definitely helping our class – so much so that there is now some jealousy about who ended up with the first gym block of the day!
Challenge: Want to take on an interesting inquiry? Start building in “free play” time into the day. Whatever the grade. Start doing some reading into the why, then give it a try! Feel free to let me know what you did/saw!!