Global School Play Day – February 1, 2023

Global School Play Day is observed annually every first Wednesday in February and this year it will be held on February 1. This holiday promotes the importance of unstructured, regular play for children. The campaign was started by a group of six educators in 2015. They realized that playtime for children was decreasing both at home and in school, leading to negative consequences for the children’s development. They immediately took action and initiated Global School Play Day, with over 65,000 children participating in its very first year.

History of Global School Play Day

Global School Play Day was created in 2015 by a group of six educators: Scott Bedley, Tim Bedley, Eric Saibel, Misty Higgins, Oliver Schinkten, and Bethany Chaffin. These educators were concerned that children were getting less and less time to play due to technology and adult interference. According to a Global School Play Day press release, the organization stated — “Schools are eliminating recess. Teachers are assigning more and more homework. Parents schedule every waking minute for their kids. Young children have become addicted to their devices — skyrocketing anxiety and stress.”

As a result of this, the group was compelled to take action, especially after listening to a TEDx talk by Dr. Peter Gray. Dr. Gray argued that children are losing much more than playtime. This inspired the educators to initiate this play day campaign. During its first observance on February 4, 2015, over 65,000 children participated, and this was after only four weeks of social media promotion. In 2020, during the sixth anniversary of the event, this number increased exponentially, with over almost 600,000 children participating across 75 countries. The organization believes the campaign has been so successful because initially, kids had started forgetting how to play and parents and educators are beginning to see the positive impacts.

Global School Play Day is for everyone, from public schools to private schools and homeschool families. Recently, businesses also started to join the movement. The organization believes that unstructured child play is part of child development and this is why they call on more educators and schools to participate in the campaign.

Global School Play Day timeline

2015
The Holiday is Created

Global School Play Day is created by a group of six educators and 65,000 children participate.

2016
The Participants Double

Over 177,000 students take part in Global School Play Day.

2017
The Numbers Increase

More than 283,000 children participate in Global School Play Day.

2018
The Global Reach Increases

A record of over 385,000 students from 58 nations participates in Global School Play Day.

2020
The Activity Spreads to More Countries

About 563,283 students from 75 nations take part in Global School Play Day.

Global School Play Day FAQs

How does play affect a child's emotional development?

Children learn self-regulation while playing as they pay attention during feelings such as anticipation or frustration.

How does play promote self-esteem?

Free play encourages children to develop skills that build self-confidence, such as conflict resolution and imaginative dramatic play.

What are the cognitive benefits of play?

Play promotes healthy development and critical thinking skills.

Global School Play Day Activities

  1. Organize a play day

    As an educator, integrate play day into your class or school calendar. Play day is not restricted to lower-level classes but can also be done by high school and college students.

  2. Stay away from gadgets

    The whole point of Global School Play Day is to encourage physical play without the use of devices, such as mobile phones, tablets, and laptops. So get outside and enjoy physical activity and one-on-one interaction with others.

  3. Use the hashtag

    There is always an official hashtag released for Global School Play Day every year. Find it and make a social media post about the importance of playtime for children, using the hashtag.

5 Interesting Facts About Playtime

  1. Children will always want to play

    Children will always play regardless of where they are, whether in war zones or suburbs.

  2. The rise in hyperactivity disorder

    Jaak Panksepp, a neuroscientist from Washington State University, believes that the recent rise of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder could be a result of the decline in classroom playtime.

  3. Huge hours spent on virtual games

    When it comes to video games, teens can go up to 10,000 hours of playing time.

  4. Child’s Play is Science

    According to UC Berkeley psychologist Alison Gopnik, children play using probabilistic models to determine how things work.

  5. Play aids brain development

    Play activities have been found to stimulate the development of the cerebellum.

Why We Love Global School Play Day

  1. It promotes proper child development

    The importance of play for children can’t be overemphasized. When away from phones and tablets, children learn social skills by interacting with their friends.

  2. It is a fun-filled day

    Children are given a chance to get away from the routine of a normal school day. Educators are encouraged to toss their schedules out the window and allow children to play without interference. This creates a fun, unrestricted play day for the kids.

  3. It improves creativity and imagination

    Play improves children’s creativity and imagination. Interacting with the world around them helps them to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Global School Play Day dates

YearDateDay
2022February 2Wednesday
2023February 1Wednesday
2024February 7Wednesday
2025February 5Wednesday
2026February 4Wednesday
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