How Recess Can Unlock a Child’s Strengths

Blogger Jill Vialet, Playworks CEO and Founder.

A couple of weeks ago at the Points of Light 2013 National Conference on Volunteering and Service, I gave a talk on Unlocking Our Superpowers.

In the talk, I offered up the admittedly controversial definition of superpowers as the “quirky and unique mix of personality and talents brought to bear in response to a need or opportunity to breathtaking effect.” What interests me about superpowers, though, is not so much the definition of them, but rather their origin: the activities, experiences and environments that help people unlock their superpowers.

This past year Playworks got back some amazing data from a randomized control trial that was conducted by Mathematica Policy Research and Stanford University. The researchers compared Playworks schools to a control group, and there were significant differences. Playworks schools were found to have less bullying, increased feelings of safety at school, more vigorous physical activity and recovered instructional time because kids were returning to class ready to learn.

And while these findings are quite wonderful, I think the most hopeful aspect of our program having this impact is that it points to the possibility that all these changes are possible if we take the time to build an environment that helps kids unlock their own superpowers. That changing school culture is most effective when we engage students as leaders and drivers of their own education.

The very idea raises all sorts of other questions. If recess and play are opportunities for unlocking our kids superpowers, what other activities and experiences are out there? What would be possible if we spent a little more time focused on unlocking our superpowers? What superpowers do your kids actually possess?
 

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