Understanding the Critical Role of the Adult in Supporting Playworks Implementation

Image of children playingA quality recess is one that is safe, engaging, and empowering. Play spaces and equipment are clearly marked and being used as intendent, students are communicating positively, and games are inclusive. Transitions to and from recess are organized and smooth, adults are playing games and engaged with students, and students demonstrate strategies to resolve their own conflicts.

These are just a few ways that quality recess happens, but recess doesn’t always look this way. When Playworks found themselves wondering why, they turned to a team at AIR to understand more. Why is it that recess quality varies from school to school, even among schools using Playworks strategies? Since 2017, Playworks and a team from AIR have partnered to learn more about how effective recess teams drive strong quality and recess outcomes.

Five Ways to Make Your Playworks Recess a Success outlines the early findings from this ongoing partnership >>

AIR first explored the adult attitudes, skills, behaviors, and character traits that may facilitate quality recess. Our study was designed to help Playworks better understand the adult competencies and behaviors that are most strongly related with a high-quality recess.

Findings from the study suggest that valuing play and support for Playworks are critical levers for recess quality and successful Playworks implementation. In fact, at schools where Recess Team members reported more highly valuing play and higher support for Playworks, aspects of recess quality were rated higher by external observers using Playworks’ Great Recess Framework observation tool. These findings are particularly encouraging because they mean that schools can impact recess quality by making sure everyone values play and supports the Playworks approach.

Further Study

AIR and Playworks are currently conducting a second study with support from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation to better understand the Playworks practices and strategies that support implementation. Through this study, AIR seeks to understand:

  • Which Playworks strategies and practices are most salient and useful to Playworks partners across settings (K-12 schools, out-of-school time organizations, and early childhood providers);
  • Why Playworks partners chose to implement Playworks during the 2020-21 school year;
  • If perceptions of Playworks vary based on region, district, model, rationale, or value; and
  • The Enabling conditions and barriers that support or hinder Playworks’ implementation and sustainability.