“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” Plato
I enjoy listening to children’s perspectives on life. Adults make lots of rules for kids but kids also have opinions on some of those rules – most times, they can’t express those opinions! I have raised three kids and taught elementary school kids and to be honest, for the most part, I simply applied the rules to keep order. Who wouldn’t when you are trying to manage your life, their lives and get things under control, including getting them to learn skills to be a successful adult? However, as an older adult now, I find myself intrigued by children’s views and perspectives (because I don’t have to manage them anymore!) but also, I have had many questioning moments about, “who is a successful adult, anyway?”
On Easter Sunday, I had an interesting conversation with my son’s friend who is eight years old. He is very bright little boy who has always questioned the things around him. Here is the conversation:
Me: So B, how is school?
B: I don’t like school. It is boring.
Me: What would make school more interesting for you?
B: I wish it were like Daycare.
Me: What about Daycare that is interesting?
B: We play at Daycare.
Me: Don’t you play at your school?
B: The problem is that the school gives 15 minutes of break. 15 minutes is not enough time to play. For example, my friends and I want to play tag during break. But it takes 5 minutes to set up the game, 20 minutes to play it properly and then we need to eat, then use the washroom before we can get back in the class. We need at least 30 minutes. Every day I get frustrated that we cannot finish the game. We don’t have enough time to play. If I had more time to play, school would be more interesting.
He was very clear and logical about his explanation. When I asked about how he could take this matter to the attention of his school principal, he responded and said: “That would require a ‘riot’. A riot is when a mass of people get together to defend the same view point!” However, he was not quite willing to lead the ‘riot’ as it would draw too much attention to him and would require too much ‘work’ to get the other kids on board.
At eight years old, I don’t think that I was that knowledgeable nor did I apply that high level of reasoning!
For all the years that I have taught, I have never considered a longer break-play time for elementary school kids. I am not sure who instituted it to be about 15 – 20 minutes but after listening to B’s reasoning, I could not help but wonder whether children do need a longer break to play. I think that when kids get into elementary school, we largely undermine the use of play as we focus on learning outcomes. There are many, many advantages to play including building leadership skills, team work, negotiating, problem-solving etc.
When I think about it more seriously, even as an adult, I have discovered more useful things about my co-workers through play and just hanging around with casual conversations.
What is your take on this? Should kids be allowed more play time? Could it be used to build healthier relationships that could lead to more balanced adults? Should adults be allowed more playtime?
Have an awesome Tuesday!