Playtime!! Ask your friends and family what they remember most about their childhood, time in the classroom or time on the playground. Go ahead, ask. If your results are like mine, a huge majority have the fondest memories of the playground. Myself included.
As educators it would serve us well to think about why this is. Aside from the obvious, no exams or homework, what do we students learn on the playground that can’t be taught in class? We learn how to deal with life’s ups and downs. In the classroom and at home we are regulated there are rules dictated by teachers, principals and parents. But on the playground, kids make the rules. They learn how to handle disagreements, disappointments and how to interact with others. They also learn how to be a part of team, to win graciously and to be empathetic. All of these are vital lessons, which are better learned without adult supervision.
It is hard for parents and teachers to leave their wards alone to learn these lessons. We want to wade in and help settle disputes fairly. But in doing so, we deprive the student the opportunity to develop these necessary skills on their own. We see two boys wrestling and worry that one will get hurt. We see a student jumping from a height that we fear they may break a leg. But we must refrain from being over-protective, if we want to produce adults who are independent and prepared to succeed.
At GGIS, we believe in producing graduates who have the ability to think and behave independently. We encourage students to engage in unstructured free play. Of course we supervise and have teachers watching the children, but we feel it is important that we give our students the opportunity to discover themselves on the playground as well as in the classroom.