Q: How do you know what you are doing is working?

A:  Our play alliance partners, Playground Ideas (who Play360 was once part of) conducted a study of a group of playgrounds in Thailand that had built two years earlier. Principals of these schools were interviewed about the effect of the playgrounds on the attitudes of the children, the attitudes of their parents and their academic performances. The principals overwhelmingly said that attendance had improved, parents were more involved and students were performing better in reading and math.

We hope to continue to evaluate our past work to assess what is working and what is not.

Q: Why playgrounds?

A: See our answer here.

Q: How do you improve education through building playspaces?

A: Building playspaces around the world has allowed us to see lots of schools throughout the developing world. While some are doing a great job educating their students and have the resources to do so, a lot of schools are under resourced and have teachers who are in need of training and help. Our playgrounds do several things:

1)  Our playgrounds support free play.  We believe that play is essential to childhood development.  Play teaches 21st century skills — skills such as collaboration, innovation, social skills — skills that are essential to being successful in the modern world.

2)  Our playgrounds provide educational resources.  Instead of trying to solve the expensive and logistically difficult problem of supplying every student with books and hands-on materials for every classroom, we attempt to bring the classroom outside.  We train organizations to build large hands-on learning equipment in the school yard.  Students can interact with the equipment in a fun and interactive way.  We train the teachers to use this equipment during their classes and it remains available to students at recess and after school.

matchstickmecanno26During our trainings, we also provide teachers with small scale manipulatives made from common items(water bottles, old flip-flops etc) that might be found in their local community.  We will train the teacher how to make these and then teach them how to use them in their classrooms.  We use many examples on the wonderful website of Arvind Gupta here.