I started Recess Revolution because I believe that how we play helps us develop who we are and how we relate to the world. During my 15 years as a teacher, I discovered that many of the creativity, collaboration, communication and critical thinking skills of my students were largely developed at home. Some children were encouraged to think for themselves, work with others, express their thoughts, and solve their own problems, while others, sadly, were not.
I encountered many students who were able to meet or exceed academic expectations, but they did not have engaging experiences in enriched environments so important for developing a sense of self. Many "successful" students still showed a lack of confidence and fear of failure. Some students showed signs of anxiety or depression, others were being treated for ADHD and agressive behavior. I felt that there was a strong connection between mental health, personal development and play and I was compelled to meet the needs of these kids.
In 2012, I began studying play in earnest. I was interested in how it related to education, but also in how it related to mental health. After some great reading:
Play, How It Shapes The Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul - Stuart Brown
A Child's Work: The Importance of Fantasy Play - Vivian Gussin Paley
The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness: Five Steps to Help Kids Create and Sustain Lifelong Joy - Edward M Hollowell
I discovered that play is studied in-depth across Europe and in other parts of the world. One could even earn an advanced degree in the study of play! So, In January of 2013, I enrolled in the University of Gloucetershire's Play and Playwork Post-Graduate program. Through this program, I have been introduced to multiple definitions of play, types of play and insight on how play is viewed in different cultures.
During this time, I have also discovered that although there is a growing focus on play in early education, our older children are all but forgotten. Play should not end as children enter first grade. In fact, research shows that play can benefit all of us: children, adults and seniors too. Play can help us all to become physically, socially, emotionally and mentally healthier.
So, come on everybody, lets go play!
Recess Revolution: Enriching Environments, Engaging Minds