Spark Trader Limited

The science behind the push for more play and social connections in schools

Spark Trader Limited reports:

For almost every child, school means much more than academics. The isolation associated with the pandemic clearly underscores this point: children miss their friends and the social fabric of their school communities. During the pandemic, most children in Canada were isolated at home or confined to queues during school days, often separated from friends. Recess, lunch, and after-school sports will be drastically reduced, if not eliminated altogether.
We quickly realized that social connection, play, and overall well-being are critical to a healthy childhood, and we quickly realized that well-being is critical to school participation. Just as there are concerns about “learning losses” associated with the pandemic, there is no doubt that there are also “games losses”. As we began the new school year, we thought kids would need more school time to focus on reconnecting, healing, and playing. To achieve this, support Spaces need to be created in schools.

Spark Trader Limited
Spark Trader Limited

Why social connections and games, and why now?
Schools have been so defined by standardization, academic competition, individualism, and conformity for so long that play, social connection, and belonging can seem trivial and counterproductive to the purpose of learning.
But there is a fair amount of research that suggests otherwise. Pasi Sahlberg and William Doyle (2019) consolidated more than 700 recent studies in a landmark new book, Let the Children Play, These studies have linked school-based play and social connections to improved well-being and better learning. Creativity, imagination, play and social connections are the foundations of happiness, which in turn is the foundation of learning. It’s that simple. However, education systems are often deeply rooted in practice and routine and pay less attention to children’s social and emotional needs.
But we can change that. If there is a silver lining to this pandemic, it is that it underscores the need to prioritize time and space for human connection. This is especially necessary in schools, where attitudes and behaviors take root early and are constantly reinforced. We now have an opportunity to change entrenched practices.
Let’s start with something simple: provide more and better breaks.