Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hooray for Play!

maria mortati Our very own Justine Roberts brought this to my attention: Monday's New York Times published an article about the positive impact play time has on kids and the study that supports it. Read it, it's good, short, and informative. Basically, a collaborative group of researchers took 11,000 children between ages 8 and 9, and gave some recess, and others none. They found that the kids who had recess had better classroom performance than the kids without. Straight from the study's mouth:
"CONCLUSIONS. These results indicated that, among 8- to 9-year-old children, having > 1 daily recess period of >15 minutes in length was associated with better teacher's rating of class behavior scores. This study suggests that schoolchildren in this age group should be provided with daily recess." Source:
This is supportive data for our informal learning institutions, and builds on something that we've been preaching and practicing here at Gyroscope. One of the people noted in the article, Dr. Stuart Brown,is the founder of the National Institute of Play. They are gathering research from a diverse band of play scientists and:
" ... initiating projects to expand the clinical scientific knowledge of human play and translating this emerging body of knowledge into programs and resources which deliver the transformative power of play to all segments of society." Source:
Their board includes the likes of Jane Goodall, folks from IDEO, the Jonas Salk Foundation, and so on. No museum folks... Anyway, according to Ms. Parker Pope, Brown considers play:
“a fundamental biological process.” “From my viewpoint, it’s a major public health issue,” he said. “Teachers feel like they’re under huge pressures to get academic excellence to the exclusion of having much fun in the classroom. But playful learning leads to better academic success than the skills-and-drills approach.”
That fits nicely with my personal experience: I remember things best when I'm having fun. Thanks, Justine!

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