Free Play; Essential for a Great Education

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In my last article, “Finland Makes the Case for Play,” I wrote about that country’s world leading educational system and its use of 15 minutes of recess every hour of the school day; not every day…every hour.

The World Congress of Play will be advocating for a return to more non-adult supervised play time for children. That may be one reason I was so struck by the absence of adult oversight when children in Finnish schools get their 15 minutes.

The article that sparked my interest in the Finnish style of education was written by Tim Walker and published in The Atlantic. Entitled   “How Finland Keeps Kids Focused Through Free Play,” it puts the use of non-supervised play this way:  During a typical break, students head outside to play and socialize with friends while teachers disappear to the lounge to chat over coffee.

He goes on to provide the resultsof research done by Anthony Pellegrini—author of Recess: Its Role in Education and Development.   Walker summarizes Dr. Pellegrini’s findings this way:

What’s most important is not where kids take breaks but how much freedom we give them from their structured work. When break times are teacher-directed, Pellegrini found, the recess loses its value. It’s free-play that gives students the opportunity to develop social competence. During these times, they not only rest and recharge—they also learn to cooperate, communicate, and compromise, all skills they need to succeed academically as well as in life.

Frequent, non-adult supervised play is important for children’s emotional, social and educational well being.  Let’s make the case for play to our friends, neighbors, teachers and school boards.  

One thought

  1. Richard, You have your finger on the pulse of this, hopefully growing trend. More play leads to more learning. I opted for no camps, no summer school for my eldest this summer. He’s been playing with excellent toys like Moss, Sphero, LEGO, and Little Bits instead. We are both very happy with this decision.

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