According to Groos’s theory, play is preparation for life, and play is nature’s way of dealing with stress for children as well as adults (Elkind, 2007). Furthermore, child-directed play stimulates the child’s intrinsic motivation to learn and explore. Knowing this fact, Generation Two provides a space for children to engage in regular periods of intellectual and physical freedom, choice, creativity and playful teaching and learning through child-directed play without fear of failure or punishment.
Sahlberg (2019) provides the following evidence that supports the need for child-directed play; (1) play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength, (2) play is important to healthy brain development, (3) play helps children develop new competencies that lead to enhanced confidence and the resilience they need will need to face future challenges, and (4) child-directed play allows children to learn how to work in groups, to share, to negotiate, to resolve conflict, and to learn self-advocacy skills. Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics (2018) states, “play is not frivolous: it enhances brain structure and function and promotes executive function (i.e., the process of learning, rather than the content), which allows us to pursue goals and ignore distractions.
Mendelsohn (2018) states that poverty-related disparities in social-emotional development emerge during early childhood and represent a barrier to learning after school entry. Generation Two responds to this by creating equitable services and resources for all students to access.
Research conducted through the University of Rochester compared children who had been in the G2 program for a school year with other children who had not and findings indicated that G2 participants were more enthusiastic about school, rated higher on measured of well-being, liked school and their teachers more and displayed less troublesome behavior.
In a study (2018) conducting by Coordinated Care Services, Inc., key findings reported the following:
- G2 teachers ratings of student behavior and emotional regulation improved or remained stable.
- Teachers reported improvement in G2 students’ ability to handle frustration.
- By the Spring, 90% of students could name an adult at school they could talk to it they were having a bad day, or something was bothering them. This reveals a primary outcome of G2 students having a connection with an adult.
- Volunteers self-reported positive effects of volunteering on increasing their own social support and sense of purpose.
- G2 students who rated “low” at baseline benefited even more from G2 intervention compared to “high” students.
- G2 students who were rated “low” benefited even more from the G2 intervention in feeling happy and relaxed, handling anger/frustration, and being asked by peers to play