From the Principal’s Pen ~ February 2020
Submitted by: Jennifer McGee, Principal of Atwood Primary School
When I was a little girl, I grew up in North Anson. We lived in a big, very old, drafty house with many little rooms. There was one room in the back of the house that was never used, so my sister and I turned that into the Barbie room. We had that room sectioned off in magical ways, so when you entered, it was an entire Barbie village.
We didn’t have the fancy toys that are available now. Instead, we used cardboard boxes, shoe boxes, our imaginations…and as soon as we opened the door to that room in the back of our house, we were transformed into our imaginary land. We did this for hours and hours and hours at a time.
When we weren’t playing with Barbie’s, we were outside and playing in the neighborhood with our friends until dark. Play, play, play all day long! That was my childhood.
In 2014, Dr. Peter Gray offered a compelling Ted Talk (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bg-GEzM7iTk) about the overall decline of free play for children. Here is a quote regarding his important research: Over this same period, there has been a gradual but overall dramatic increase in anxiety, depression, feelings of helplessness, suicide, and narcissism in children and adolescents. Based on his own and others’ research, Dr. Gray documents why free play is essential for children’s healthy social and emotional development and outlines steps through which we can bring free play back to children’s lives.
On Wednesday, February 5, together with schoolhouses all over the WORLD, Atwood Primary School will lock arms in the movement: Global School Play Day. We are giving the children the gift of unstructured play. The teachers and staff will be working with the children to review gentle rules in order to keep them safe, and then will back off…and allow them to play without adult interference! The day will be unstructured, but certainly not unsupervised!
Children are invited to bring toys from home. The only restrictions are:
- No toys that require batteries
- No toys with weapons
- No electronics
We invite children to bring: board games, dolls, Legos, blocks, trucks, cars, playing cards, jigsaw puzzles, and crafts. Also, be sure your child is bundled up for the day because we may have extended periods of time for outdoor play in the snow!
February 5 is also Global Read Aloud Day! At 1:30 in the afternoon, we will all gather in the gymnasium for the launch to our Community Read Aloud! You are invited to join us as we unveil the book all of our classrooms will be reading! This promises to be a fun and exciting end to our Global Play Day!
We are excited to marry two wonderful ideas into one fabulous day: Global School Play Day and Global Read Aloud Day on February 5th. These practices are central to childhood health and wellbeing and we are looking forward to spotlighting these in our school day. Have your child wear his/her Atwood Awesome t-shirt or sweatshirt on February 5 because this day promises to be AWESOME!
Free play is GREAT for children. It helps them develop language, reasoning skills, creativity, coordination, and interpersonal skills. Free play helps children learn to plan, and to cooperate, and to navigate relationships. It also is a natural way for children to burn energy, boost energy, and heal emotional wounds. Free play teaches children to focus and be present and problem solve. So, save those empty cardboard boxes, get some blankets out for blanket forts, dust off those board games and dig out those decks of cards. Let the children play, play, play…
Jennifer McGee, Principal of Atwood Primary School
Dates to Note:
Monday, January 20: No School/ MLK Day
Tuesday, January 21: No School for Children/ Teacher In-service Day
Tuesday, February 4: 1st and 2nd grade concerts at 6:30 (Messalonskee High School PAC/ Snowdate: February 6
Wednesday, February 5: Global Play Day and Global Read Aloud Day…have your child wear his/her Atwood Awesome shirt!!
Friday, February 14: Valentine’s Day
Monday, February 17 to Friday, February 21: No School, Winter Break