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  • Writer's pictureEric Danowski

Global School Play Day!

Last year, when I first learned about the Global School Play Day, I knew it was something we needed to bring to Saint Andrew’s. Play is such an important part of a child’s development, at any age.

Children of all ages learn through play. Play helps build resilience, reduces stress and anxiety, and encourages expression. With younger children, play can teach about the world around them. As children get older and they begin to discover their passions, play is an opportunity to dive further into those interests.

As a first grade teacher here at Saint Andrew’s, I made sure to include opportunities for brain breaks and unstructured play as much as possible. We had extra recess, choice time instead of morning work during morning arrival, and weekly Makerspace time for students to explore their interests. Many of these are practices in our elementary classes still.

For our Global School Play Day, students brought in toys and games from home. It was a chance to play and try things that they are truly interested in. It was a screen-free day with very limited electronics use.

While walking around the buildings, I was able to join in a few activities. It was great seeing students interacting and laughing while playing Clue, UNO, Don’t Break the Ice, and Apples to Apples. Students were also drawing pictures, playing chess, and building with blocks. And even our virtual students were included in several games!

When I first announced GSPD, I could see some hesitation from the teachers. How would this work? Could we really take a whole day for something like this? How do you manage unstructured play?

Afterward, several teachers commented that this was a much needed break from academic work. Students needed this time to socialize. One teacher shared that it took some time for their students to figure out how to manage this unstructured time, demonstrating the need for developing self-management skills. There were even requests to make this a routine event.

This was a day that allowed students to explore their interests, spend some time with their friends, and, while still social distancing and sanitizing regularly, have something resembling pre-COVID fun. While it was a day for our students to learn from play, it’s also an invitation to everyone to take time to unwind and do something you enjoy.

LEGO bricks are recommended for ages 4-99, there’s a group of adult friends who have continued a game of tag since they were young, and Hollywood movies are basically actors and actresses of all ages playing dress up. So take a break, find something you enjoy, and have fun!

Mr. Danowski is the Director of Teaching & Learning

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