Right At School Blog

How Play Can Bolster Students’ Learning and Well-Being

Play! Aside from being a whole lot of fun, play has some serious benefits for the development of the whole child.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth.

How does play support a child’s learning and development?

  • It helps them build their brains and develop important skills such as language, motor, social-emotional, executive function, self-regulation, and conceptual thinking skills.
  • It allows them to explore, experiment, and interact with the world.
  • It sparks their imaginations and creativity.
  • It provides opportunities to socialize and interact with others.
  • It helps them build 21st century skills such as communication, collaboration, and problem-solving.
  • It helps them develop resiliency — and much more.


With the shadow of the pandemic stretching into the 2021-22 school year, there’s no better time to give kids a boost. One way to make more time for play — and playful learning — is with after school enrichment.

Learning that feels like play

We know the last thing a child wants to hear at the end of the school day is “Who wants to learn some more?” That’s why Right At School thoughtfully incorporates learning into fun and engaging activities — and why we call it Disguised Learning™.

With over 180 unique, hands-on Disguised Learning activities, students have an abundance of ways to learn and play, while exploring math and science, reading and writing, nature and outdoor learning, creative and performing arts, and community service. For example, in the Inventor’s Workshop unit, students learn about Roman aqueducts and apply Design Thinking as they engineer, test, and iterate their own designs built out of recyclables.

These enrichment activities can support district educational goals by reinforcing learning standards and focusing on skills and subjects that help students succeed in school. With Disguised Learning, districts can infuse extra learning time into the day without causing burnout because all students know is that they’re having a blast!

Playing for fun and fitness

The benefits of play for the whole child extend to health and fitness, too. Play involving physical activity can promote healthy weight and cardiovascular fitness. It can even boost the immune system.

Right At School offers a wide range of daily movement and fun fitness activities designed for all skill levels. Students get a chance to find activities that fit in their comfort zones so everyone feels good about themselves.

  • During a daily “fitness blast,” students enjoy moving and shaking, doing stretches, or enjoying quick team games that deliver laughs and high-fives.
  • Indoors and outdoor games and sports are also part of the mix. From basics like kickball and volleyball to wild and crazy movement games, kids enjoy the activities and the feeling of being on the team.

Engaging in social-emotional learning (SEL)

Because social-emotional development is more “caught” than “taught,” SEL is embedded in everything Right At School does.

Our Disguised Learning curriculum is aligned with the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) competencies. We infuse program content and experiences with opportunities for children to practice personal responsibility and relationship skills, while our activities bring about chances to build awareness of self and others. Whether students are engaged in team games, self-directed play, or wacky STEM experiments, they are encouraged to find the best in themselves and others.

Building a foundation for success in school — and beyond

Play is fun (of course!), but it’s not trivial. It’s an effective way to help students build skills that will benefit them in school and in life.

High-quality before and after school enrichment provides an easy way to infuse up to five additional hours of learning and play into each child’s day — in a place full of caring educators. These extra hours can make a big difference, particularly as schools and families look for ways to enhance students’ educational experiences amidst the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Plus, with Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding available for after school enrichment programs, it’s an ideal time to think about how to enrich and infuse the school day with highly engaging, SEL-informed experiences.

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