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Play in schools articles 10-01-2013

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A number of articles about the importance of school playtime have featured in the media recently:

The crucial role of recess in school

In its first policy statement on playtime in school the American Academy of Pediatrics states that playtime is an essential part of a child’s school day and should be a ‘period of free, unstructured play’.

The policy statement abstract states that ‘safe and well-supervised recess offers cognitive, social, emotional, and physical benefits that may not be fully appreciated when a decision is made to diminish it. Recess is unique from, and a complement to, physical education—not a substitute for it. The American Academy of Pediatrics believes that recess is a crucial and necessary part of a child’s development and, it should not be withheld for punitive or academic reasons.’

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All work and no play

In this article in the Times Educational Supplement (TES) Helen Ward reports on the importance of playtime in schools at a time when it is increasingly curtailed to make more time for structured education and activities. She cites research by Ed Baines and Peter Blatchford, psychologists at the University of London’s Institute of Education, who looked at how the situation changed in the UK between 1995 and 2006.

‘They found that, in 1995, 42 per cent of junior children and 70 per cent of infants had an afternoon break. The majority of primary schools today still have an afternoon break for infants but only 26 per cent let older pupils out again between lunch and home time.’

The main two reasons for reducing playtimes were poor pupil behaviour and a need to cover the curriculum.

The researchers also found that children were attentive following playtime.

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And finally …

Cate Blanchett pleads for more kids’ play in schools

In the foreword to newly published Creative Arts in the Lives of Young Children actress Cate Blanchett calls for more play in schools. She says

‘… arts and play are vital to the energy of any classroom … the vibrancy of children is in great jeopardy if the outcome of their education is measured through literacy and numeracy alone.’

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