At least one child care center in Washington State is getting rid of its swings in an effort to bolster its kids' scores on the state's "Early Achievers" test. If the kids' scores go up, so do the subsidies the state provides. But if they go down, watch out. Support goes down too. Washington State's centers need more financial support than ever as other new regulations require higher spending.
And so, reports Mallory Gruben in TDN.com:
Infants, toddlers and preschoolers who attend the Three Rivers Christian School early learning center will no longer be able to use the swing set at recess.
The school recently removed the swings from the frames, and school staff plans to completely take down the sets later this year in an attempt to offset the cost of new licensing requirements expected this fall.
The hope is that swingless playgrounds will bolster the institution’s score on Early Achievers, a state rating system for child care centers. Schools lose points if their students use swings for more than 15 minutes a day, said James Murphy, director of the early learning center at TRCS. Removing the sets eliminates any temptation students have to spend longer in the swings — and negatively impact the score.
The rating system is optional, but centers that opt out don’t qualify for any subsidies.
Ironically, the school's homepage features a kid on a you-know-what. (As does their FB page!)
There is little that kids love more than swings, recess, or running around. And it turns out there is a reason for that: Playing is how kids learn. That's why Mother Nature baked the drive to play into us all -- so our brains AND minds would be turned on, receptive.
Just today, we found this report on the importance of physical activity for mental health and education. The National Center for Biotechonology Info writes that, "State-mandated academic achievement testing has had the unintended consequence of reducing opportunities for children to be physically active during the school day and beyond." This, despite the fact that, "Children respond faster and with greater accuracy to a variety of cognitive tasks after participating in a session of physical activity."
Play is not the opposite of education. It IS education. And in fact, taking free play OUT of kids' lives, writes Let Grow co-founder Dr. Peter Gray in this Psychology Today piece, is "increasing the odds that they will suffer from anxiety, depression, and other disorders."
It's understandable that the Three Rivers Christian School, which looks so wholesome and sweet, needs to make sure its subsidies don't disappear. What really needs to change is what we value and consider "educational success" in young kids.