One of the advantages of an after school program with a lot of choices, free play and social opportunities is the opportunity to develop a child’s social and emotional competencies.
A great summary of what exactly are social and emotional skills and their importance can be found here
"Free, unstructured playtime gives kids a chance to discover their interests and tap into their creativity. It’s a crucial element for building resilience in children, an attribute they’ll need in order to become happy, productive adults. That’s Kenneth Ginsburg’s thesis and the core of his book Building Resilience in Children and Teens."
Read the whole article here.
Part of every day at Lextended day is going outdoors, except in more extreme weather conditions. We find the children are happier when we do and most have a real drive to be outside. This is also a great opportunity for unstructured, imaginative play, gross motor skills, and opportunity for social and emotional development.
Most research I see is in support of increased outdoor time. This article shares a number of theories.
More on potential effects on asthma an ADHD here
We were fortunate to have Sam Healy give an all staff training on using the Nurtured Heart approach. He is a long time advocate for children and has worked with many leaders in the after school arena like the Boys and Girls Clubs and City Year.
The three main stands of the approach are:
1. Refuse to give big reactions to broken rules or problems.
2. Relentlessly "energize" positive behaviors and qualities.
3. Be clear and firm about rules and consequences.
Why do we start each afternoon with outdoor play? It builds important social and emotional skills and even a few more minutes each day increases focus. The Atlantic Monthly has a great round-up of all of the studies if you want to know more.
Are children being exposed to screens too early? - a conversation with Taking Back Childhood by Nancy Carlsson-Paige and mother of artist Matt Damon.
I like what she says about what children should be doing instead....
"The fact that they are spending more time looking at screens instead of engaged in robust outdoor play, interacting with other kids, spontaneous negotiating and figuring out problems in the real world with other kids, means they are not learning some of the vital lessons that came naturally to children in the past. Screen time is rapidly changing what children learn and don't learn."
Full blog post from Education Week here
Teacher directed play proves to be a winner! Also giving kids the materials to play encourages imagination and vocabulary development.
if you want to delve into the academic research on play, this article is for you.
Lextended Day Hosted BC Professor Peter Grey for at 2016 annual meeting. He shared his concerns about the decline of play and the rise in depression and anxiety in children. Drawing on recent social science, he links the decline in children's feeling like they have control over their lives and future.
Great article in the Washington Post about ways to improve recess. I saw 5 suggestions in the article!
- bigger boundaries
- less intrusive adults/letting children lead play
- fewer rules
- some out of the box items to play
- longer time!