“We’re like WD-40 for enhancing school climate. We come in, we make things go a little easier, and it makes it that much easier for teachers to be really good at their jobs.”
Playworks founder Jill Vialet, ABC News Nightline, May 10, 2010

There’s anticipation in the air. The neighborhood kids sense it coming. It’s back-to-school time, and judging from the commercials running now, there’s no way to avoid it. But the schools that kids are going back to aren’t like the ones I remember.

Today’s kids spend more of their time in a classroom and less time playing—12 hours less per week in free time since the 1970s—according to a recent study. With the advent of No Child Left Behind, even the time spent in the classroom is much less playful than it used to be, as schools focus more closely on testing requirements. Our kids aren’t learning how to play, and, as research shows, it’s affecting their ability to learn.

Enter Playworks.

Changing the Culture of Education

Playworks is one of my favorite big new ideas in education. The team at Playworks brings safe, healthy and inclusive recess to schools. Their coaches provide full-time, on-site program coordination to 170 schools in 10 cities across the nation. That’s more than 70,000 students at low-income, urban schools who have a chance to engage in play every school day.

ABC News: Click here to see a video of the man who rehabilitated children at recess through 'rock-paper-scissors'

What makes Playworks so great is that they help kids create their own games and solve their own problems using such tools as Rock, Paper, Scissors. Kids who participate in unsupervised play are able to explore their imaginations, connect with other people, and grow physically, emotionally and socially. Quality recess and play help children return to the classroom more focused and ready to learn.

As I think about kids heading back to school, quality recess and educational outcomes are something I can get behind. If it’s something you’d like to support, donate now to Playworks. Visit the JustGive Guide for other organizations providing quality education enrichment programs. Or search by zip code to find and give to your schools in your area.

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