There’s a common school of thought that suggests that children should not be allowed to run riot at school and in playgrounds. While it’s generally accepted that they do require some form of playtime in between lessons in order to let off steam and get some much needed fresh air. But many people believe that allowing them total freedom in the outdoors is a recipe for disaster.
However, a new trend is emerging that seems to blow that theory out of the water. Following the lead of Swanson School in Auckland, New Zealand, many more schools across the globe are allowing children more and more freedom to express themselves – and are reaping the rewards.
Aside from general rules and guidelines, children are free to do as they wish, including tree climbing, digging and playing with sticks and stones. It may sound like a health and safety nightmare, especially in an era of lawsuits and injury claims, but this sense of freedom has actually proven to be hugely effective. Incredibly, the schools embracing this trend have reported fewer injuries to children than those who have stricter guidelines in place.
And the benefits haven’t just been shown outdoors. Back in the classroom, it’s been proven that the children are more focused on their studies, and instances of bullying have reportedly decreased considerably. It therefore appears that allowing children a free reign in the playground could be key to a happier atmosphere in the school and better performance from the pupils themselves, simply from allowing them to break free of the repetitive nature of lessons and the restrictive nature of overbearing rules.
This release of tension appears also to make them less likely to bully one another and to become distracted, yet can it really be down to having no rules in the playground? It has been suggested that leaving children to be their own masters when in the outdoors is actually invaluable, because it enables them to learn from their own experiences and mistakes, meaning they learn for themselves how to make good life choices.
Whilst it might not be to everyone’s liking to let children do their own thing in the playground, it certainly reaffirms the notion that it is vital for kids to engage in outdoor play and pursuits. To encourage outdoor activity on an even more frequent basis, school canopies and playground shelters can be installed to make outdoor areas more accessible in all conditions.