This article is part of our Member Blog Series, which showcases Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative Members' efforts and commitment to ensure that play is a critical element in the lives of people of all ages. Each month, a different member organization will share their take on how play is a part of the work they do. The Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative hopes that these stories of play from our diverse set of member organizations will encourage and inspire leaders in communities, businesses, schools, and families to prioritize play every day.
Can more play in schools increase positive behavior?
We know exclusionary discipline is a problem.
The PAEYC public policy agenda calls for an end to suspensions and expulsions for children birth through age eight in all early childhood settings. Our vision to eliminate exclusionary discipline focuses on preventative and responsive strategies that support healthy child development.
Data from the U.S. Education Department indicates that racial and gender disparities exist: African American boys make up 18% of preschool enrollment, but 48% of preschoolers suspended more than once. Disproportionate impact for African American students persists throughout the K-12 years.
Responding to the problem, the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Education created a policy statement to raise awareness about the negative educational and life outcomes associated with suspending students in the early years. Earlier this year the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) released its own policy statement. The announcement - Reduction of Expulsion and Suspension in Early Childhood Programs in Pennsylvania - provided guidance for early childhood programs to work with staff, community partners, and families on steps to reduce the use of exclusionary discipline. Locally, Pittsburgh Public Schools recently convened a committee to make recommendations for alternatives to suspensions for K-2 students (the PPS pre-k program already prohibits exclusionary discipline).