Sheila Tatiana Duarte Cordazzo, Ana Maria TomÃÆÃÂ¡s de Almeida and Mauro LuÃÆÃÂs Vieira
Play behavior is a spontaneous and enduring activity in school-aged children. While play is a highly valued developmental and learning asset by adults in care during infancy and preschool years, free play times are constrained in the majority of primary school settings. The present study conducted a quasi-experiment with a pre-post test design aimed to verify the influence of free play times at school in the motor, cognitive and social performance of Brazilian and Portuguese children in their second school year. 44 children (23 Brazilian and 21 Portuguese) were randomly distributed into a control group and an experimental group. Children in the experimental condition were introduced twice a week during three months to sessions of free play at their schools. Evaluations at the pre and post tests were performed individually or collectively in a classroom setting before and after the three month intervention. The intervention produced similar results in Brazilian and Portuguese children. The introduction of free play times in the school environment elicited significant changes in the cognitive, social and physical performances in both Brazilian and Portuguese children enrolled in the experimental condition. The benefits of including free play times in the school schedule were specifically pointed out in this study. Results suggested that this kind of activity is an activator for children’s developmental process and is able to increment the results of educational practices.
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