What will school look like once it officially resumes in-person learning? Will teachers and school districts change the way they approach teaching kids? Parents and educators alike are asking all these questions, and more, when the future of traditional schooling is discussed. Mental health experts in the U.K. have one proposal: let the kids play more.  School kids In the U.S. educational school system, recess is often super short. Even physical education is sometimes relegated just to an hour or so a week. But with kids stuck at home for months on end, many kids are lonely and feeling the effects of isolation. As a result, they’ve been missing something just as important as academic learning: socialization and face-to-face playing with friends. 
Source: Oops & Daisies
Working more play into the school day — experts from five UK universities say — can go a long way in addressing kid’s social and emotional well being, and, in turn, their interest in education. As Gavin Williamson wrote in a letter to the education secretary in the UK, according to The Guardian: 
“As experts in children’s mental health and development we urge the government to prioritise children’s social and emotional wellbeing in all decisions related to the easing of lockdown restrictions and the reopening of schools.” 
Schoolkids playing While this recommendation comes from the UK, it’s something that hopefully a lot of countries around the world consider. Play is good for kid’s in all sorts of ways. If the last few months have proven anything, play also allows kids to explore, use their imagination, and learn about the world around them in different ways. When  friends are involved, it also benefits their social and emotional well being, as the experts say.  Kids hugging A senior lecturer in psychology and education at the University of Cambridge, Dr. Jenny Gibson emphasizes just how important play can be to kid’s development: 
“Playing with friends and classmates has a very significant impact on their social development. Critically, it is an important way of working through emotions and will therefore be one of the principal ways in which they cope with the isolating effects of lockdown.”
Kids playing soccer Mental health and well being have become a bigger priority for more families already, as they struggle with teaching their kids about what’s going on in the world while balancing work, school, and everything in between.  When formal and traditional school is back in session, mental health and well being should continue to be priority. And since play have proven time and time again to improve mental health? Then, I have a feeling both kids and parents alike can get behind play being worked more into the school day. Here’s hoping educators will be too. 


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