September 23, 2020
This week, I have had a few conversations with parents regarding play in a socially-distanced world. Whether your child is learning remotely or attending school in-person, in second grade, or 12th grade, we acknowledge that times for unstructured movement and peer interactions, commonly called recess or break in a traditional school setting, are essential parts of the school day. This notion is also detailed in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which states, young people have the “right to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child.” Not only is there a body of evidence indicating cognitive performance and attention increases with play, learning components such as memory and retrieval, attention, dexterity, reading, verbal fluency, semantic fluency, and enhanced student motivation and morale are potential outcomes from incorporating play in a school day. Furthermore, studies show the power of play as a tool in the development of important prosocial behaviors; behaviors such as sharing, helping, cooperating, and comforting others. In younger students, recess develops socialization skills that lead to friendships, and for our older students, these socialization skills continue and become more peer-based as adolescents forge a sense of belonging and identity. Throughout the school years, these unstructured times for socialization are one strategy to help students cope with emotions during stressful times; in our current climate, play remains essential to healthy child and adolescent development.
Unlike other schools who, in response to COVID-19, have shortened the day by eliminating breaks, recess, and lunch, we continue to create healthy and safe spaces for play, both structured and unstructured so that students may engage in meaningful experiences with other students. For our students who are learning from home, we invite them to take part in play whenever possible. Many of our remote students virtually join other classmates during snack time or recess/break, in addition to joining clubs or other activities, such as our cross country teams. With a little creativity, we can create opportunities for play for all our students.
Remember to check your email on Fridays for the Lower-School/Middle School and High School Newsletters. This week’s highlights include information on the LS/MS Back to School Night, school holidays, academic and student spotlights, a new technology section, and so much more.
Dr. Kara A. Loftin
Head of School