Day 94 (of 185) Global School Day of Play @GSPlayDay #GSPD2017
Interesting: an early years lady was chatting with me and observed how it’s tough for some kids that she works with to use their imagination. Even “play” seems very regimented and scripted. She observed how many of the people she sees buying/using Lego are focused on kits rather than “free bricks”.
Why do we need a Global School Day of Play? To remind ourselves as adults and to affirm in our children, that while structure is important…..there needs to be practice doing things without adult supervision and direction. Admittedly, I do stick around in my “Library of Chaos” to make sure there’s not too many bloody noses…..but really I look forward to these days in order to watch and take notes – part of our ongoing descriptive feedback loops: what might help our students be more successful “next time”. And indeed some teachers let play occur and then did some reflection and talking and then tried again!
I have had some great conversations with Scott Bedley – one of the @bedleybros who first proposed this crazy idea a few short years ago. Play. And I enjoyed sharing this with my school with a brief explanation “why” during our library times (benefits of being a principal-librarian!) and tying it to my work around geniushour and having students have “authentic choice” in what they do -and while structured choice (this or that) is important, it can’t be that way for everything.
It also has linked with some work I had been doing around physical literacy and a concept called “deep play” – in short kids need to not know when “playtime” will be over in order to become fully engrossed in play. And there are some stretches where it feels like it will be a disaster, but around the 45 minute mark, neat things happen thanks to rigor and perseverance: https://technolandy.wordpress.com/2014/06/11/day-176-of-184-free-deep-play/
And our district and community groups brought in Americas Worst Mon who’s twitter handle tells her philosophy: @freerangekids with the message: if you did it as a kid, why shouldn’t your kids do the same. But how often are the parents of kids who stay out until the streetlights come on getting into trouble (peer/ social media pressure)
And in our household we try. We’re not always successful as we sometimes succumb to peer pressure (always watch your kids “or else”). But we do like mixing family game time and I know my kids hate it when they say “I’m bored” and I respond “Stop bragging. You’re so lucky” – because I have tried scheduling some “boredom breaks” to have kids at home & school try to figure out what to do when there is no (or limited) direction!
So I like the reminder (and willingness of my staff to give this a go) of the need for play and specifically:
Social play: sometimes just walking and talking other times at the graffiti board (big white board) and sometimes just watching……which made me think: as a society we understand watching competitive sports, and I watched groups watching games of chess…..but I know there will be eye rolls and shakes of heads whenever I bring up my kids watching others play video games on YouTube…..yes there is an audience for this….and yes I’ve been sucked into watching (shoutout to @matpat )
Competitive: chess became more popular as the ages increased while library – and inspired me to break out our Lord of The Rings board to see if my son can beat me…..I think this will be the year.
Exploratory: neat to see kids explore either “new-to-them” games like others or share some classics like monopoly (I didn’t bring my board from home but based on demand, apparently I should have!)
Escapist: had an anxiety boy spend a looong time working on a lego labyrinth to help him focus on the “too many choices” otherwise available.
And a highlight was the discussions in the staff room at lunch! We were mindful about letting the students be in control and work out their frustrations without our intervention. And there were only a few moments that needed an adult to interfere….but mostly we observed and reflected on how and why students were playing in the way that they were – and agreed with the @bedleybros point: free play time needs encouragement and even occasional modelling (or at least opportunities presented) around free play.
Yep. That’s the world we are in: modelling free play and scheduling boredom breaks! At least we are aware and mindful of these needs! Thank you to the educators who tried today’s Global School Play Day – and for those who are thinking about a repeat….Play On!!