Schools can incorporate play everywhere, even beyond recess and physical education, and those that do, reap multiple benefits. For instance, The Visible Men Academy (VMA) all-boys charter school in Bradenton, Florida, has incorporated play into every aspect of their learning goals. Since partnering with KaBOOM!, the school has been able to put its ideas into practice in new ways. For instance, students have "solar time" twice each day — once before math and once before English. These 15-minute time blocks of play help the kids focus better in the classroom during two of their most challenging subjects.
Play also enables VMA teachers and students to interact in new ways. When a student is struggling with behavioral issues, he isn't sent to the corner. Rather, he is invited to play on the playground. As the child begins to play and becomes more comfortable, teachers can ask questions, get the student to open up about his feelings and continue instruction in an enjoyable, engaging way.
Innovative communities across the country are also taking steps to incorporate play city wide because they understand that play is critical to a great education. For example, Chicago is rebuilding 300 school playgrounds and, alongside additional instruction time for students, guaranteeing 45 minutes every school day for children to play before returning to the classroom ready to learn. Mayor Rahm Emanuel is also working to fulfill Chicago's motto of a "City in a Garden," and has set an ambitious goal of ensuring every child lives within seven minutes of a park or playground.
Nashville has also taken action. Because community leaders believe increased play can help boost youth academic achievement, health and socialization, Mayor Karl Dean has initiated policies to promote play, such as: signing a Complete Streets Executive Order to make Nashville's streets safer and accessible and creating joint use agreements to open school playgrounds to the public after school hours, on weekends and during the summer.