It’s no secret that peoole have worried about children’s wellbeing over the past two years. The pandemic and lockdowns have seen thousands of children completing schoolwork at home. Controversially, this has included children in early primary school.
To build up wellbeing and social skills, some primary school teachers are using strategies outside of traditional subjects like reading, writing and arithmetic. The card game, Uno has proven a hit by the children.
‘Brain breaks’ — in addition to recess and lunch — are also being implemented.
Teachers are using these techniques to address effects of lockdown on children’s development.
New South Wales’ Primary Principals Association’s vice president, Michael Trist has highlighted effects on children’s development.
We know children have missed out on some of those basic building blocks for their social skills and the resulting mental health benefits those social skills bring.
Trist is optimistic that lost and under-developed social skills can come back and improve:
Just like a student who arrives at school with limited literacy can make up ground, so can a child who arrives with social deficiencies.
These techniques are being used not only to increase social interaction, but to also build prosocial behaviours. In locations that had the harsher lockdowns, challenging behaviours and emotions have increased.
Play – based learning is essential to early development
In the early 2010s, Australia’s Labor Government introduced reforms to early childhood education.
As a result, the Early Years Learning Framework was established.
In early childhood education (daycare – Preschool), play-based learning is seen as an essential part of childhood development.
According to the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF):
Play provides opportunities for children to learn as they discover, create, improvise and imagine. When children play with other children, they create social groups, test out ideas, challenge each other’s thinking and build new understandings.Belonging, Being and Becoming: Early Years Learning Framework, p. 5
Play is recognised as, not just important for identity, but also prosocial skills in children.
So, it makes sense that it would help primary school – aged children who may have regressed in some of these skills over the past two years.
Mental health, especially among children and young people, has been such a hot topic over the past two years. Having children in organised play can only help increase children’s mental wellbeing.
It’s not just about reading, writing and arithmetic
In mainstream media, there has been concerns raised over writing, reading and mathematics standards. Concerns have only heightened since the pandemic.
While skills in reading, writing and arithmetic are important, I think it’s good that social skills, play-based learning and rest are also being highlighted.
It’s good for children’s mental health. And that’s important for learning.
Children may need to be eased back into school life again. I think relearning social skills using games is a great first step.
What do you think? Should all primary/ elementary schools develop play – based programs and extra breaks? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.