Playtime, an integral part of a child’s school day, often serves as a break for fun, physical exercise and socializing. However, at LES Primary, an innovative transformation is underway, redefining playtime as an essential component of learning through the adoption of the OPAL (Outdoor Play and Learning) approach.
The journey to embrace OPAL emerged from a recognition that traditional playtimes can sometimes breed dominance in certain activities, conflicts, and disengagement among students. Seeking a shift in dynamics, LES Primary is poised to revolutionize playtime by emphasizing student leadership, encouraging child-led decision-making, and enhancing engagement.
At the core of this transformation lies a commitment to nurturing leadership among students. Empowering children to take the reins during playtime activities fosters essential skills in responsibility and autonomy. By allowing them to shape their experiences, the OPAL philosophy cultivates a sense of ownership and empowerment, laying the groundwork for growing confidence.
The essence of OPAL resides in its departure from one dimensional activities to a more organic and student-driven approach. This shift encourages creativity and inclusivity, granting children the freedom to choose their play activities and promoting a positive and empowering play environment.
Moreover, the OPAL approach recognizes playtime as an extension of education itself. By integrating diverse and engaging activities, LES Primary aims to reinforce classroom lessons while nurturing crucial social, emotional, and physical skills vital for holistic development.
Evidence from other OPAL schools show that transitioning to an OPAL school yields additional teaching time per session. This additional teaching time is attributed to students being more settled and focused after engaging in fulfilling play activities. Consequently, a more conducive classroom environment emerges, fostering creativity and attentiveness among students.
Notably, behavioral improvements are observed in OPAL schools, with significant reductions in the use of behavior policies during playtime. This shift signifies improved social interactions and conflict resolution skills among students, fostering a harmonious and inclusive play environment.
Anticipating a safer and more engaging playtime, LES Primary foresees a reduction in playground accidents by emphasizing student leadership, diverse play experiences, and responsible decision-making. The OPAL approach promotes accountability, reducing incidents and risky behaviours. Its inclusive and child-led activities aim to mitigate potential hazards, ensuring a safe and confidence-boosting play experience.
To this end, LES Primary is thrilled to announce the arrival of Michael Follett, founder of OPAL to kickstart the project in January, marking a significant milestone in the school’s commitment to transforming playtime.