Can Playtime Help Classtime? One Program Gets High Marks

May 22, 2013

A new study from Stanford University shows a program being used during recess at six New Orleans elementary schools is enhancing the children’s education. About 2,200 students are now in the local Playworks project.

Ten-year-old Jazmyn Simmons is a junior coach at recess. She makes sure her fellow fourth-graders at Arthur Ashe Charter School play by the rules of specially designed games for recess.

“It’s fun. You get to teach students how to play the right way without being rough.” 

The Playworks program features game that are challenging without being highly competitive.

Ashley Aucoiis the program coordinator. She says games are simple and designed to build confidence, like a lineup of players to kick a soccer ball at a goalie.

“It gives them the encouragement to do it because it is so simple and through doing that they see that they’re involved. And by doing that, when I do decide to push the lesson up into an actual soccer game, they are able to do it.”  

Researchers at Stanford evaluated 29 schools using Playworks, selected at random from across the country. They found teachers said it took a half-hour less time to settle the children from recess to lessons.

Teachers also reported a drop in bullying and the students feeling safer while at school.

Playworks spokeswoman Dana Greenup says the program began in Oakland, California, in 1996. It’s been in New Orleans since 2008.

She says it’s expanding to eight schools next year.