ROCKLAND — Principal Marilyn Smith is pleased to announce that students at the R. Stewart Esten Elementary School in Rockland celebrated Global School Play Day on Wednesday, Feb. 5.
Esten students were broken up into groups of 10-15 kids each and rotated through various classrooms during the day, engaging in activities ranging from puzzles and board games (many of which were donated by the Esten Parent Advisory Council) to dance activities and building cardboard box structures.
Students from all grade levels were mixed together, giving them a chance to interact with different teachers and students. Physical education teacher Marcia Beatty, who helped organize the day, decided which students were placed in which groups.
Siblings from different grades were placed together to give them a chance to play and interact alongside their peers.
This is the first year the Esten School has taken part in Global School Play Day. The event first launched in 2015, with around 65,000 students participating. This year, more than 500,000 students from schools in 75 countries were signed up for the day.
Principal Smith said she learned of the event from speaking with a colleague in a nearby school district.
“I thought it was a perfect fit for our school. So many children don’t play anymore, and when a lot of them do it’s through organized sports where they follow the instructions of their coaches,” Principal Smith said. “Problem-solving and leadership skills don’t necessarily get developed in an overly structured environment. Global Play Day encourages students to take more of an active role in their activities, and that boosts their confidence and self-assurance.”
Esten students already have the chance to play and interact in a less structured environment during the before-school “Build Our Kids’ Success” program, which runs three times a week. Students are also encouraged to get regular exercise, and can use sensory pathways in the school’s hallways to be even more active.
Esten students said they hope the event becomes an annual tradition at the school.
“This day has been so much fun, because we get to play and hang out with kids we don’t get to see a lot,” second-grader Jayden Smaller said. “And we get to pick what games we want to play. I like that we get to make our own choices.”
In addition to Global School Play Day, Feb. 5 was also the 100th day of school, as well as World Read Aloud Day, and Esten students were read specially-selected stories during lunch and down times throughout the day.