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For Claire Stubbs, before Playworks, recess at Edward Gideon Elementary in Philadelphia was the toughest time of the day. The fourth grade teacher dreaded picking her students up after recess. “Once the soccer balls and kick balls went flying over the fence, that was the end of that. The kids were bored and had nothing to do. They were fighting at recess, not doing much of anything constructive and it continued into the classroom.”
As a result, she would spend 15 minutes after recess every day getting her students back on target. “I’d pick them up from the yard and someone would try to tell about the fight. Or we’d have to go visit the school nurse,” she explains. “Then once I got the kids to classroom, I’d have to spend time trying to get them together enough to settle down.”
But when Playworks came to Gideon, Stubbs began to see a change. “Kids learned teamwork, sportsmanship and how to play together without fighting,” she explains. “You could see and feel the difference. The problems were not brought back into classroom. They would come back from lunch from playing with all the energy out and they were ready to focus.”
The benefit extended beyond the weekly hour plus of reclaimed teaching time, says Stubbs. “One of the most positive things about Playworks was it helped the kids learn to communicate better with one another through play. And through play it turned into being able to talk to each other and solve problems without getting into a fight for it.”
“Before, I spent so much time trying to resolve conflicts over nothing,” remembers Stubbs. “By learning to play games and cheer each other on and play as a team and be good sports, it translated into their everyday communication with each other.”