As a school that values social and the cognitive and emotional development for all learners, we have restructured the traditional playground recess approach by incorporating Playwork, a practice popular in the United Kingdom and Europe that focuses on unscripted and open-ended play.
Research demonstrates that this type of play is essential for the development of physical skills, cognitive development, and social-emotional growth. The process and benefits of play are often lost in today’s modern world, where children become addicted to screens and technology or attend more structured extracurricular classes and organized sports. Our goal is to provide an environment in which our learners can create and destroy, explore, problem-solve, take self-regulated risks, build community, feel accomplishment, support and help others, and grow to become independent and self-reliant. We strive for our learners to learn more about themselves and others on the widest scope possible.
During recess and lunch, our playground will look engaging, messy, a little chaotic, and fun. Play is a process and not a product, and therefore time outside will look different each day. Our outdoor Play Shed houses a variety of loose parts ranging from fabric, cardboard boxes, recyclables, and other random items to foster innovation and creativity while building and having fun! We also feature areas where our learners can construct, deconstruct, climb, and create. Our hill is open for our second- through eighth-grade learners to explore, and our Arts Shed is filled with a variety of supplies that allow learners to tap into their inner artist.
We are one of the first schools in California to adopt the Playwork approach, and we are continuously documenting our learners’ experiences as a part of a research program developed in conjunction with SCV Adventure Play and the U.K.-based Pop-Up Adventure Play. Professionals from both organizations have trained our staff and provided significant insight into the theory behind Playwork.