Nobody can deny that the continued pandemic has resulted in disruption and delay in many areas of life. Schools and students can particularly testify to this.
Given the almost year-long struggle to keep up and catch up on reading, writing and ‘rithmetic, it is fair to say that school-day opportunities for physical activities are minimal or even non-existent. Ironically, when pressure in the classroom is high, even more time is spent in class. Including time allocated for other activities that are necessary for mental as well as physical development.
While in there is the need for structured sports, games and other co-curricular activities, free play is also crucial. It is the much needed break the brain needs from receiving and processing information. Contrary to what many educators think, staying rooted to the classroom chair works against learners of all abilities.
The school day starts early, way before getting to class and for many in the big cities it starts even before dawn. To beat traffic jams and the hustle of criss-crossing the city, many children are awake at ungodly hours. They spend a good chunk of their day sitting and basically the transition is from one seat to another: whether it’s from the bus to class or from class to the dining hall, a break sadly means changing seats.
Otherwise and especially so after the Covid pandemic turned Education as we know it on its head, their heads are buried in books. This is despite scientific proof that physical activity has a positive and measurable impact on cognitive skills, attitudes and academic performance (CDC).
Their counterparts in boarding school have far more opportunities to engage socially, physically and not necessarily competitively on a daily basis. Free play is the oasis in the desert for a tired brain. It is the break needed and deserved by all students.
This is Firew, at Year 11, the journey to University has begun. There is increasing pressure to present grades that will get him to the university and career of his choice and while he works on that throughout the day and many evenings too, he likes to take a break to “shoot hoops”. No cheering squad needed no playmates either. Basketball is his downtime.
At Turi we encourage and enforce physical activity into the daily patterns of students and we dare say, we believe it has an impact on the consistently great overall performance of our students!