Can rough housing really be advantageous to young students and their learning abilities? A group of Pacific University students conducted a study in which they concluded that the answer is yes.

Senior education majors Alan Cushing, Nolan Booth and Carson Bartlett  observed 60 students at the Early Learning Center on campus from Jan. 30 to April 5 to see how rough-and-tumble play affected the students ability to learn and pay attention in a classroom setting.

What the group found was students actually participated more actively in class if they were allowed to partake in rough-and-tumble play activities during recess. Such activities include: tag with an open hand, wrestling, or any other jostling activity.

One major concern all three seniors shared going into the project was whether data for male subjects and female subjects would be skewed. As it turned out, female participants were just as active in rough-and-tumble play as the male students.

Cushing said, “What we found was that rough-and- tumble play allows students to learn how to problem solve and learn what their bodies are capable of.”

All three seniors said they grew up in a rough and tumble play environment and felt that it is beneficial to a child’s learning experience.

Because Booth, Cushing and Bartlett all participated in rough and tumble play as children, they said they were concerned there might be some bias in their conclusion. They said they acknowledged this and tried to counter any bias by constantly questioning the data and each other.

One member of the audience raised a question of whether rough-and-tumble play may lead to more bullies in the playground setting. Bartlett assured her that if the students were properly monitored, such things would not occur.

Cushing said, “We can judge a students happiness by their play face. If both students participating in an activity are wearing a play face, then it is fine. However, both must be enjoying the activity.”

Bartlett suggested there should be a training program for teachers so they will know how to handle difficult situations on the playground.

After their presentation, Cushing, Bartlett and Booth all expressed a desire to implement rough-and-tumble play into their own classrooms when they are given the opportunity.

Cushing said, “I still rough house with my dad. And it’s funny now, because he’s old and doesn’t move too good no more.”

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