School playtime expert urges teachers to look beyond classroom

Date Posted: 21/05/2018

Last Thursday was Outdoor Classroom Day, which saw more than 1.7 million children playing and learning outdoors worldwide. 

The campaign highlights the importance of time outdoors for children during the school day, including playtime, and further aids in promoting learning outside the classroom.

Michael Follett, an expert on playtime and director of Outdoor Play and Learning (OPAL) CIC, has reported a ‘light being shone’ on the importance of playtime in schools with the campaign.

Research released by Project Dirt regarding Outdoor Classroom Day supports his philosophy with 97% of teachers questioned believing that outdoor playtime at school is critical for children to reach their full potential. 

As a result, Follett is asking more headteachers to consider the impacts and benefits of learning outdoors.

What the study found out

OPAL supports Primary schools to dramatically improve the quality of day-to-day playtimes. Benefits of outdoor play and learning include improvements in lunchtime behaviour, engagement, learning, personal development and physical activity. 

And Outdoor Classroom Day’s findings support this as teachers in the UK said that, after an outdoor playtime, they saw improvements in engagement with learning (57%), concentration (75%) and behaviour (58%).

Follett is calling on headteachers around the country to commit to making 20% of the school day 100% better. He commented: “There is a wealth of evidence that supports the importance of children having time to play and be active, at school and in their everyday lives. 

“And the headteachers we work with through the programme see it too. But too many schools in the UK are failing our children by seeing playtime as a luxury rather than a necessity. 

“It’s time to change this mindset, which is why I’m challenging headteachers around the country to stand up and take notice of the overwhelming evidence that shows the impact that an enriching playtime can have in schools.”

For more information, visit outdoorclassroomday.org.uk.

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