‘That 15-minute dose of freedom and sunlight and joy’: How more time playing improves children’s learning

By Allie Jaynes for CBC Newsletters

When William Doyle visited rural schools in Zhejiang province, China, he was amazed by what he saw: children running around in the mud, building things with tires and loose planks of wood, organizing themselves and having fun.

The country has a reputation for its rigid educational system, but the schools Doyle visited were following the “Anji Play” curriculum, a method developed by a local educator who emphasizes risk, joy and engagement.

“This is like heaven for children,” Doyle told The Current’s Laura Lynch. “It’s a very visible, extraordinary experiment in human freedom.”

China was one of the places Doyle travelled to while he and co-author Pasi Sahlberg were researching their book, Let the children play: How more play will save our schools and help children thrive. 

While many school systems around the world are moving towards an emphasis on digital skills and test scores, Doyle and Sahlberg argue that more time playing — away from desks and screens — improves children’s learning, concentration, mental health and happiness. 

This isn’t just true for small children, they argue, but for teenagers and even adults. And it’s an idea that is gaining momentum with a growing number of educators and policy-makers, including in Canada.

“Play is the cheapest and easiest way to help people to learn communication, problem-solving, negotiation, empathy,” said Sahlberg. 

Read more here.

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