Avoca West News

February 7, 2020

Tapping Into SEL Through Play

This past Wednesday was Global School Day of Play, inviting educators all over the world to step back and provide time for students to engage in free play with their peers. As a parent and an educator, I know that we are constantly structuring so much of what our kids do -- in learning, in what they play, in who they play with, and are typically there to make sure that everything goes according to plan. This lack of "figuring it out" and the draw of technology has an impact on how students interact with one another --- a downswing in their social skills, ability to try new things, negotiating with others, and overall imaginative play.

But learning is NOT lost when we let students play. In fact, it's precisely the kind of learning we are zeroing in on this year -- social emotional learning! On Wednesday I saw our students:

  • Taking leadership in helping others to learn how to play a new game --- and how to appropriately respond when a student doesn't follow the rules.
  • Generate ways for sharing and taking turns with one another
  • Demonstrate graciousness in winning and losing, and how to give compliments
  • Practice making group decisions for shared play and materials.

It was AWESOME...and, it was absolutely in line with the SEL goals that we're learning about. Many teachers (and students) shared how much they learned about the students in their during the day and will be looking for ways to bring more opportunities for this free choice into our week. All students benefit from it, our community and climate benefit from it, and we know that those foundations are critical to higher learning and success beyond school.

I encourage you to watch the TED video below and ponder how to build more unstructured time into your child's life (and yours!). The transition can be tough -- especially with potential "I'm bored" or requests for you to help fix or negotiate on their behalf. Stick with it - it's worth it!

The decline of play | Peter Gray | TEDxNavesink
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Thank You Volunteers & Leaders Everywhere!

At this midpoint in the year, it's the perfect time to pause and consider those in our Avoca West lives who go above and beyond to make it a better place for all. We have structures in place to recognize our students, but haven't quite nailed down a way to thank staff and volunteers who really bring exceptional life to our school. Having watched the major undertaking that is Art in Action yesterday, I was in awe of the PTC leadership and our parent volunteers who made it ALL come together. INCREDIBLE! Similar magic took place behind the scenes for our AW Movie Night, and is in the works as we ready for the Fun Fair.

None of this can happen without those who are willing to embrace the call to lend a hand. As the saying goes, "We make time for the things that are important to us." Thank you all for putting Avoca West on your list of priorities -- we feel it!

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Check out the Avoca PTC's Updated Website

Don't forget to stop by the Avoca PTC website for updated information and dates to put on your calendar as well. There are many exciting events going on -- including our Spirit Wear sales!!

Questions? Comments?

Please feel free to reach out to ask any of our office staff for help!