24 Nov

Ting-a-ling-a-ling.  That is the all too familiar sound of the bell that preceded the voices of excited, energetic children: “lets play skipping”, “it is time to play cricket” “stuck in the muck”.  It is recess. (memories)

I seldom get a chance to see this so you can imagine my fascination when recently I visited Mocho Primary and Infant School in the capacity of keynote speaker at their annual girls’ day and I watched the children bolted from the classroom and was on the playing field in a jiffy.  They played hard. And I thought to myself “what a rare and beautiful sight”.

I realize by writing this article that I have never taken the time out to truly consider what is recess and its main purpose. So I paused to think. Recess is the specific period in a school day implemented by schools which sole purpose is to allow students to take a temporary break from all formal teaching and learning activities. As a child, I looked forward to this moment of play.  This anticipation is shared by many children.  The bottom line is, play is important to a child’s development.  So important is it that it has been recognize as a right of a child.  I am concerned however that our children are being robbed of this birth right. Several factors are culpable for this injustice to our nation’s children such as child labour which is often the symptom of poverty, community violence, child abuse and lack of resources. Additionally some of our children are being pushed to grow up quickly while academic pursuit falls within the same category.

The current Grade Six Achievement Tests has proved to be so much that our children hardly find play time as most of them are at school from 7:00 a.m to 6:00 or 7:00 p.m six days a week. By the time they get home, they are swamped with assignments.  It is not just the GSAT curriculum that is a problem.   It is also at the kindergarten level. I recently had dialogue with a four year old who expressed that she could not play with me at the time I required because she had to study for her exams.  My mouth opened wide in astonishment.  Why should a four year old be burden with studying?   Further research on this argument purported by this four year old revealed that lunch time for these kindergarten students was at 10:00 a.m and school did not end for them until 2:00p.m. There is no other break throughout the day. They then engage in extra-curricular activities until 4:00p.m.  Why are we burning out our children and at such a tender age. Parents, you are being burnt out too.  (post to come)

When these things happen, what exactly are we depriving our children of?


Play provides the following developments in our children:

  • Develop skills such as learning to share, negotiate, problem solve, conflict resolution, self-advocacy and decision making
  • Develop own area of interest and discover their passion
  • Encourages use of creativity and develop imagination
  • Children best interact and understand the world around them through play
  • Helps them overcome their fears while engaging in adult roles
  • Enhance their confidence and resilience through the development of new competences
  • Aids in their physical, cognitive, social and emotional development
  • Improve their ability to work as a group
  • Develop leadership skills
  • Develop active healthy bodies and can help in the reduction of obesity

The truth is, deprivation in these development skills results in the under development of our children in some areas.   We need to remember that the aim of the education system is to develop the holistic child. While the education system has no control over the poverty, child labour, violence, etc…that affects our children, it has the capability to provide moments of play for those of the children otherwise deprived. Managers of education have control over the structure of the education system.   Other factors are already depriving our children so let us be the escape for them; that haven of solitude from the stark reality some of them face.  Children learn a lot through play.   Let us not induce student and parents burn out.Let us help them own this birth right.

What say you? do you think we are robbing our children of this birthright?

*picture taken from Google images




  1. PLAY: A CHILD’S BIRTH RIGHT. ARE WE ROBBING THEM OF IT? | educatordorrainereidinspires - November 24, 2013


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