Five Important Life Lessons from the Playground

  1. Updates

One of the most under-utilized arenas for social and emotional development is the playground. How can adults who supervise the playground—at school, in public parks, or in our back yards—best use that time to teach kids the skills they’ll need to thrive? In a recent blog post with our partners at United Way, Playworks shared best practices and strategies to help adults teach social and emotional skills to children through play.

Five Ways Play Can Help Kids Improve Social and Emotional Skills:


Inclusivity

In an increasingly polarized society, how can we teach our children to be inclusive and empathetic toward their peers? Encourage girls and boys to play together, and give older children incentive to include younger kids. When there are language barriers, facilitate games like foursquare or Penalty-Kick Soccer that can be learned and played without verbal communication. Avoid games where kids will be permanently ‘out.’ Instead, play games like ‘Watch Your Back Tag’ or ‘Crossover Dodgeball’ where everyone can participate until the game is over.

 


Conflict resolution

Empowering kids to resolve their own conflicts instead of making an adult step in to mediate is a skill that will serve our children into adulthood—and a skill that many of us still lack! Teach simple games like Ro Sham Bo or Rock, Paper, Scissors so problems can be resolved quickly and won’t linger after playtime is over.

 

 


Positive reinforcement

Something as simple as a high-five or a “good job, nice try!” can go a long way in creating a positive environment and instilling confidence in children. Adults should constantly be modeling this behavior and encouraging kids to follow suit. Play games like Traffic Jam that don’t end until all the players have reached a goal. Promote teamwork and encourage kids to cheer each other on. When you see your children encouraging others, you’ll know the lesson has stuck.

 


Leadership

The playground is a perfect place to give children opportunities to lead. Teach one child the rules of a new game and have her teach the rest of the group. Have a child lead a game of Up Down Go or Red Light, Green Light. These methods can be especially effective with children who are shy or hyperactive.

 

 

 


Honesty

It’s so easy to let winning take priority over having fun. Most kids at some point have claimed that they weren’t really tagged in kickball or that the dodgeball missed them, just to secure a victory. If you want to practice accountability and honesty, play a game like Museum Night Janitor. It’s almost impossible to claim “I didn’t move!” when the janitor catches you moving. Think about a way for kids to get tagged back in so the loss isn’t permanent. This will help them make the right decisions in the moment, and eventually teach them that losing a point isn’t worth being dishonest.

 

More Updates


September 15, 2021

Creating an Inclusive Playground ›

When children feel included on the playground, it gives them the space to learn and grow in an environment that they know will celebrate their wins and encourage them to learn from their mistakes. As recently highlighted on NBC, health experts are stressing inclusion for school children, which is why we’re focusing on it as…

NE Team
NE Team

September 8, 2021

Playworks Goes Back to School! ›

We know how important addressing children’s emotional needs is to recover from the learning loss and trauma felt throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s where Playworks steps in. Over the past few months, we have been preparing for modified in-person programming with the intention of bringing an impactful, safe, and fun recess to every child in…

September 1, 2021

2020-21 Year End Report ›

Schools were closed. Sports were cancelled. Recess was still on schedule. Throughout the pandemic, Playworks has been a ready and willing partner to schools across our network, helping to redefine the role of play in the lives of students dealing with increased stress, trauma, and anxiety. The support of dedicated partners helped Playworks continue to provide…