How Much Should Kids Play at School?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Genius of Play; but all opinions and text are my own. These days, parents have a lot to think about. Sure, parents have always had a lot to think about; but there seems to be more pressure and judgement now. What should we feed our kids? How much screen time should kids get a day? Should we encourage them to be competitive or just let them play for fun?  Two of the things we can all agree on are:
  1. It is important for children to play.
  2. It is important for children to learn.
When we send our kids to school, we want them to get a quality education. So, where do we draw the line between play and learning at school? Some would say that it should be limited to the 30 minutes of recess offered at schools, while others say that is not enough.
Play at School
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash
Schools are placing more and more demands on children these days with testing, demanding course loads, and high expectations. While I do believe that we should push our kids to be the best they can be, I also believe that they should be allowed to experience learning through play. As adults, most of us probably prefer workshops where we get to put our learning into practice. Adults call this practical application, while children would call it playing. As the famous Mr. Rogers once said, "Play is often talked about as a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning." He believed that, "Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning." Not everyone is an auditory learner. In fact, there are 4 types of learners:
  1. auditory
  2. visual
  3. verbal
  4. physical
Teaching or reviewing a topic, and then allowing children to play games and interact with that information incorporates all 4 types of learning. This allows everyone the chance to learn in a way that suits them. Everyone learns better when they are enjoying it. If given the chance, wouldn't you prefer a hands on activity to a lecture? While we are on the subject of play, let's talk a little bit about recess. When my son gets home, that is the part of the day he talks the most about. Does that mean he didn't learn anything the rest of the day? Of course not. What it means is that he really needed that break to go outside and use his imagination, get physical, and just be himself. All children need a release during the school day. No one wants to sit in a room and listen all day long. I've been to all day conferences, and even they know that keeping you cooped isn't a good idea. What do they do? They schedule breaks (usually more than one) throughout the day. So why do kids only get a single twenty minute break for recess? Worse yet, some schools don't even mandate daily recess for their students! I would love to know what student behavior looks like in those schools.  My kids can barely handle sitting still for a 2 hour movie without a break, let alone an entire day. According to the Genius of Play, there are 6 major benefits of play for child development that include:
  1. Physical
  2. Emotional
  3. Social
  4. Cognitive
  5. Creative
  6. Communication
Check out what some other parents had to say about play at school: As with everything, balance is definitely important. Too much of anything can lead to trouble. Check out this article about The Importance of Giving Kids a Balance of Play by Talia Filippelli.
We want you to weigh in and voice your opinion. What are your thoughts on play and school?

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8 thoughts on “How Much Should Kids Play at School?

  • August 6, 2017 at 1:06 am

    I think play is very important. My son needs to move and CAN NOT sit there for a long period of time. And honestly, some kids just aren’t interstellar in some subjects, so to take taking a break allowed them them focus inside the classroom, even when they don’t want to be there

    • August 11, 2017 at 5:26 pm

      Definitely a good idea to allow breaks throughout the school day, especially when a subject is difficult or frustrating

  • August 13, 2017 at 8:30 pm

    I will share this post to a few moms I know, half of them are home-schooling and have incorporated ‘play’ in their curriculum. I definitely think kids should play A LOT. It gives them an opportunity to develop their social skills. Apart from that it is fun!

    • August 14, 2017 at 7:01 pm

      Homeschool is becoming more and more popular as parents realize that the typical way of teaching isn’t working for their kids. Maybe if play was incorporated in more school lessons they would have more support

  • August 14, 2017 at 1:11 am

    Play is TOTALLY important! This was one of the first things we looked for when choosing a preschool for our daughters. We didn’t care about academic learning (since her parents are a college prof and a former college prof [me] we weren’t worried about that end of things!), but we really wanted them to learn the social interactions of give-and-take, negotiation, etc. that can only come from play. And play is the BEST way to learn, anyway! 🙂 – if it’s fun, you’re more likely to remember it! 🙂

    • August 14, 2017 at 6:59 pm

      That is great! Finding a place for them to learn social interaction is important. And when you are having fun, you definitely remember more

  • August 14, 2017 at 3:39 am

    Playing and communication is good for them so they can have a confidence and they can learn how to deal with other people.

    • August 14, 2017 at 7:00 pm

      Agreed, confidence and social interaction is important


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