By: Chine Okeke, Baylor University Intern
Playtime is an essential part of children’s development, and may be considered by some students to be the best part about going to school! Making sure young students feel included and have a safe space for personal growth and development is an important part of education.
One of the greatest benefits of playtime is the peer-to-peer interaction that children receive which enables them to develop relationships and essential social skills that will serve them well as they grow older. At South Bosque Elementary, teachers want all students to get this opportunity. The “I Play, You Play, We All Play Together” grant provides funds for unique playground equipment that allows both disabled and general education students to use and have fun with.
According to Kelli Zander, an Early Childhood Special Education teacher and one of the grant authors, the special education program arranges their outdoor recess times so that special needs students have the daily opportunity to play with their general education peers.
“We believe that these unstructured play times during the day provide a much-needed opportunity for our general education students to develop positive peer-to-peer relationships,” Zander said. “It also promotes a culture of inclusion and acceptance of ‘differently-abled’ students.”
Unfortunately, students with limited mobility and vision impairments do not have any outdoor activities currently to encourage their interaction with general education students.
The grant is providing funding for outdoor musical equipment such as eight aluminium chime tubes, three congas, sculptured metal flowers and an angled small cabasa drum. These activities provide opportunities for students to strengthen fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, develop problem solving skills, and improve communication and socialization skills.
“[We wanted to] provide activities for our students that did not require them to rely on an adult’s assistance, and would also encourage peer-to-peer interaction,” Zander said.
Zander says the goal is to promote an environment where all students feel that they belong.
“ All students will be involved in play and activities on the playground developing communication, play, and [social and emotional learning] skills that can be generalized to other settings within the school and home,” said Zander.
This grant was made possible by all Midway Education Foundation donors. For more information about the Education Foundation and its programs, you can visit www.midwayisd.org/foundation.