The Power of Play
I was one of those kids on the sidelines too intimidated to play in competitive activities during recess. You won't find a competitive bone in my body, though ironically, I have a twin with the inbred craving to win. Go figure. We joke that she got the competitive gene. Not much has changed in 40 years, I still let those hypercompetitive alpha-types get ahead of me on the roads... which drives my teenage son crazy ranting, "Mom, are you going to let him get away with cutting you off like that?". Then I get the last laugh when we pull up next to the Dale Earnhardt wanna-be at the next stop light. I do recognize the healthy advantage of competition in our free-enterprise society. I just wish there were a way to take out the aggression. This is what Playworks is all about.
I heard about Playworks, from one of my favorite "kind promoting" online communities, AOK. Playworks uses school recess playtime to help develop skills used in resolving conflict in children for improving school climate. Coaches work with teachers and students to make recess time an opportunity to not only get kids active, but to teach them the important lessons of cooperation and teamwork. Recess can be a difficult time in schools with playground fights and injuries due to its free-for-all nature. Playworks coaches are trained to manage recess chaos and reduce bullying behavior by implementing games that teach kids how to play well together and support each others. Studies revealed that schools participating in the program report: (from the Playworks website)
• 86% reported a decrease in incidents of bullying
• 87% reported a decrease in disciplinary referrals
• 88% reported a decrease in the number of conflicts originating on the playground and spilling over to class
• 89% reported an increase in students’ abilities to focus on class activities.
Motivating kids to succeed is important, but integrating social cooperation in our schools allows us all to win.