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Play is the thing

Three incredible events took place this week in the school, and all are related in a fundamental way.

On Monday, the school had the Richmond Jewish Day School & Beth Tikvah Congregation Charity Golf Tournament.  It was a great success, and we owe serious thanks to the work of our amazing parent volunteers, led by our Fundraising Chair, Marshall Stern.  Many, many hours went into making the tournament the success it was – kol hakavod to Marshall and his team, our sponsors, volunteers and committee members!  As many of you know, I am not a good golfer at all (and that’s putting it mildly), but I very much appreciated the ability to take time out of work, to play in the sun for a few hours with some great people.


Last night was the final performance of the school play, Aladdin, directed by our very own Mr. Freddy Somers.  We’re not sure how he does it, but every year, Freddy seems to set the bar higher and higher, and the students rise to the challenge.  It was a wonderful production, and it was very obvious to all who saw any of the 4 performances that it was a labor of love for all involved, from the students to the volunteers and teachers.  Watching our students discover their hidden and not so hidden talents is one of the beautiful moments in the life of a school, as it is a process of self-discovery for the student that plays out in a very public way, in the glare of spotlights.  Mazal tov to the students on a great show, we are so proud of you!


And finally, today is Fun Day at school, and the school and playgrounds are filled with the sounds of students having a great time, engaging in team play and friendly competition.  I’m going to have to finish writing this post soon to go out and finish off the day with the water balloon fight, and will be soaked to within an inch of my life, but that’s the price you pay when you work in education!


All three events share one thing in common – PLAY.

Fred Rogers (he of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood fame) put it best:

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.”

To quote Andrew Miller, an Educational Consultant and Instructional Coach:

“Why play?  Play does so many positive things for us in terms of learning. When we play:

  • We build skills like confidence
  • We strengthen relations with others
  • We develop creative skills
  • We problem solve and tinker
  • We learn to be flexible

People who play learn to question something, predict an outcome, and evaluate their predictions through the process of play. When we play, we persist through challenges — and we even enjoy it. Play builds excellent social and emotional skills and helps create a culture where those skills are valued at school. Probably one of the most important aspects of play is the way it treats failure and mistakes as non-punitive, ensuring that we have opportunities to learn from whatever went wrong. Yes, play makes failure fun. I love the use of the word “tinker” to describe play. It’s serious work, but it’s also fun work. Play values the process of learning as well and the product.”

I could not agree more – our entire school system played this week.  We are all better off for it.


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