Why children should play in school

Sand and water play

John Coe, chairman of National Association for Primary Education, recently described a visit he’d just made to a school. Two 11-year-olds had been assigned to tour him round the building. Approaching the Reception classroom the children became visibly eager, hurrying their pace. On entering, they made a beeline for the Sand and Water table where they showed John all they could achieve with hosepipes and pulleys – talking excitedly all the while.

John told me, “The children were intelligent Year 6 pupils. Their spontaneous move to play like four-year-olds is a powerful indication of the denial of the inclination to play (and learn) which is characteristic of too many test-driven schools.”

Motivation levels are high during play. Remember Vygotsky’s words about a child at play being “a head taller than himself.” Schools would do well to include play as a natural part of their curriculum. The learning potential is tremendous.

Click here to download Play and the revised EYFS, our guide to how children’s play naturally fulfils the revised EYFS.

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