Learners Join Global Movement to Prioritize Play

MECC Learners Join Global Movement to Prioritize Play
Posted on 02/21/2019

MECC Learners Join Global Movement to Prioritize PlayThis month, MECC students participated in Global School Play Day 2019.   Staff committed to giving their students a full day of unstructured play.   The students were able to communicate, collaborate, and create without interference from adults.   For one full day of school, staff handed the reins over to the students and simply sat back and observed.

MECC educators Kelly Bello, Tina Darling, Krissy Hufnagel, and Soroya Smith helped lead the effort to bring Global School Play Day to Mason. Through much research and the study of Purposeful Play by Kristine Mraz, these leaders are preaching the direct correlation between the rise of anxiety and depression and the decline of play that Dr. Peter Grey speaks of in his TedX talk.

“We spend hours each week carefully crafting lessons that foster our students academic and social emotional growth, but what we saw during #GSPD2019, was that many of the things we thought we were teaching, children achieved through play without any adult structuring required,” shared Darling.

The day was filled with a conduction of spontaneous experiments, little imaginations leading to the creation of unique experiences, children problem-solving and negotiating next steps, and demonstrating that through play learning was achievable.

One MECC student, who is coping with the grief of losing two family members, worked over those emotions through play. The children playing with this student were able to empathize, comfort and bring joy to one another, showing an incredible ability to understand a concept that would be difficult for any six year old. 

“We have focused this year on teaching mindsets of empathy, resilience, persistence, flexibility, and optimism. These skills were evident throughout the day. We were also able to see who took longer to connect, who demonstrated empathy for others, who stepped up to lead and so much more. Taking this day gave us a greater insight into our students and who they are as humans,” said Bello.

Though, one of the biggest takeaways from #GSPD2019 was a renewed mission.  “A mission to defeat the decline in school engagement that happens as students get older. A mission to create an environment that has a seamless melding of learning and play.” MECC staff wants to challenge their colleagues, not just in early childhood, but also through high school to consider this notion.

“We want our students to see that learning happens all of the time and that school is not a place where you comply and chase good grades, but rather a place for creativity, questioning, experimentation, failing forward and reiteration.  We want to change the world by changing school and empowering our students to be the creators of the next amazing thing that will make our world a better place,” shared Smith.
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