The foundation for academic success and child development is safety.
Emotional and physical safety are the foundation needed for kids to then be able to learn, develop, and grow.
Ninety two percent of parents believe schools should make sure all students feel seen, heard, and included at school, according to a new survey by the National PTA.
Every day in schools, we can see the power of connection–between peers and with adults and the ways it deepens a students sense of belonging. In the 2022-2023 school year, 95 percent of educators surveyed said that Playworks helps create an environment of belonging. Teacher Jill Sikaundi said Playworks helped her “set up an even more safe place where kids feel valued in their school environment.” Through the simple act of playing, kids can naturally form and strengthen trusting friendships and relationships with others.
The National PTA’s survey showed parents strongly support schools providing services to support students’ emotional and mental health, and they believe it is healthy for students to have the opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings with other trusted adults who are not their parents.
Connection has the power to reduce the harmful effects of isolation and is a protective factor promoting the mental health and well-being of kids. When kids play games like Helping Hands Tag, they navigate interpersonal experiences and build trust with the other kids and adults in the game, while having fun.
Schools are under immense pressure to address academic challenges. More than half of fourth-graders were struggling to read on grade level across every state in the U.S. last year, according to the 2023 Kids Count Data Book published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
If we want to support students with academic growth, schools must invest in making sure students feel physically and emotionally safe and that they have the opportunity to build authentic, trusted connections.
Playworks programming supports children’s emotional, mental, and physical health. We believe healthy practices, spaces, and communities are needed for children to thrive, and those systems are made possible by caring, consistent, engaged adults. Of educators surveyed last year, 93 percent believe Playworks helped create a more supportive learning environment. How? We provide trained coaches or trained caring adults and/or youth leaders on practices and strategies that promote positive, inclusive play that builds connections.
These results were made possible by the incredible support of our nationwide partner, New Balance Foundation, in addition to the many staff in schools and out of school time organizations who work with kids every day.
Teacher Laura Boeche said, “My students really enjoyed their time with Coach Evan. The program increased their confidence as leaders and gave them a sense of belonging.”
Results from a survey conducted by Partners in Education and Resilience (PEAR) showed that Playworks’ Junior Coach Leadership Program positively impacts students’ relationships to adults and peers, abilities to engage in and feel connected to their community, personal development, academic motivation, and more, according to the kids themselves. In fact, the survey showed that Playworks’ Junior Coach leadership program creates a positive, statistically significant impact on its 4th and 5th grade student participants across all 14 social-emotional outcomes measured.
The results of Playworks programming go beyond just the Junior Coach program. Last school year our annual survey showed the power of Playworks programming across the nation…
After students feel safe, they can get more engaged in their own learning and empowered to navigate new experiences.
Teacher Janet Johnson said, “Playworks has been a really positive experience for our kids K-5. Every coach we have had has been a beloved and well-respected leader on our campus. More kids are actively involved in a community game or activity. Playworks is a great program, and the coaches make inclusion and activity safe and fun for all of our kids.”
Educators and school staff can take the Recess Checkup to assess the safety of recess.