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How we use Play at the Belfry

This article appeared in the September 2022 edition of the Diocesan newsletter, Footprints.


At the Belfry we looked at how play could be the most effective at supporting children's mental health; their social and emotional needs.

The first thing we do is to have the classes play in class bubbles (one of the few positives to have arisen from lockdown!) This means that children get to know their peers well - especially required in mixed age classes - and develop new friendships. It does push children out of their comfort zone but strengthens their social skills.

We deliberately keep the classes in bubbles as well because the numbers work - 30 is a good number of pupils to get to know everyone and develop social skills through repeated interactions. When two classes mix the numbers rise to 60+ and it all becomes more complex, and exponentially so when the whole school play together!

We watch to see how everyone is getting on - who is coming out of their shell, which are the new friendships that are forming... and when we think that those skills are all in place we mix two classes together, and then by the Summer the whole school is playing as one.

The socal skills are now so embedded that they are easly transferable to a larger group dynamic; a far more complex social setting.

And the results? Happy Children! Far less anxiety, fallings out and general concerns.

For more information about this type of approach the non-profit organisation LetGrow have worked closely with us: https://letgrow.org/

They have lots of resources for parents too! Well worth checking out!

Alison Gopnik's book "The Gardener and the Carpenter" is well worth checking out too http://alisongopnik.com/TheGardenerAndTheCarpenter.htm 

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