KOMPAN Playgrounds

Play and Learn: Bridging Classrooms and Playgrounds for Better Learning Outcomes

SandCugatDelValles_Barcelona_020By Helle Burlingame, KOMPAN Play Institute Manager, North America

Children today are being described as having attention issues; from children with diagnosed sensory integration issues to children in general not being able to sit still for long periods of time.  Every day across the country, a lot of class time is spent by students figuring out creative ways to get out of their seats with teachers making sure they return.  The young child who gets in trouble because he cannot leave his neighbor alone, leaves his chair to get something that catches his attention, and he forgets the rules. It happens every day in every class room across the country. Teachers tell us that many kids have trouble paying attention in class for long periods of time. Dr. John Medina sums it up like this: “There is no greater anti-brain environment than the classroom and cubicle.” Our brain quite literally falls asleep.  A growing amount of research supports the notion that moving on or even away from the chair benefit children’s learning.

I used to work with children with special needs such as those with attention deficit disorders, autism and sensory integration issues.  When I think back to my most successful approaches to teaching it involved physical activity. I remember with great fondness a four year old student of mine, his name was Jimmy, who was not able to sit still to even finish his meal or listen to an entire story – but when he was prescribed a heavy dose of physical activity in between learning activities, his attention span increased tremendously. It was a joy to watch his pride swell as his belief in his learning abilities grew. This pride is the very DNA of learning for all children. Research shows that the vast majority of children benefit hugely from outdoor education and play.

It is time we embrace the need for children to be active not only in the playground but also in the educational setting. There is a significant amount of research that supports the idea of experiential learning.  Why not use the playground outside to teach the curriculum in active ways? KOMPAN has recently launched a series of playground equipment that assists teachers who want to combine learning and play. The playground equipment holds imagery from The Little Mermaid or The Ugly Duckling. They make possible an interactive introduction of these classic children’s stories to young children. These Smart Playgrounds are designed to support English or other native language teaching activities: Children can listen and learn about the stories either through a downloadable, free learning app, or the teacher can read the story in class. The literacy activities are then led by teachers and involve finding words, letters and images from the stories on the play equipment. Children must actively search the playground or perform events from the stories. All the teaching and learning activities are designed for teachers by teachers to support literacy skills like reading, speaking, listening, and comprehension in active, creative and fun ways on the school playground and in the classroom.

Children are energetic and love to move.  When you have them actively participating in learning, they feel in control and remember better. All children can benefit from this type of teaching. Let’s be creative in finding more ways for children to become immersed  in learning through physical activity. Children are built to learn while moving and having hands-on experiences.







Helle Burlingame

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