Most blog posts this year have been about making good decisions, getting ready for testing or reducing fear and anxiety; all issues that many with learning issues can relate to. Not this post! This post is about PLAY! Summer fun! There is NO AGE LIMIT for play. It is REALLY good for ALL of us. In fact, a lot of research has been done on play. And guess what? We all, especially our kids, are getting less and less play. This is really awful!
Play, especially Outdoor Unstructured Play, is critical for important developmental reasons:
- Learning and maintaining the desire and ability to explore.
- Learning and maintaining the ability judge risk taking.
- Development of fine and gross motor skills
- Input of vast amounts of basic knowledge about the natural world.
Research shows playtime is shrinking in kids life due to an earlier and earlier academic focus, excessive screen time (both TV and computers) tired parents, unsafe neighborhood play places and elimination of school recesses.
Darrell Hammond from kaBoom!, a company that creates multi sensory play grounds, says active and balanced play helps kids to thrive. Other experts tell us attention spans increase if playtime is integrated into the learning day and fidgeting can be an indication that there isn’t enough physical activity in a child’s day.
What can you do to encourage outdoor unstructured play?
First get out of the house and out of their way! Kids will engage in this kind of play naturally. You might hear, “I’m bored” at first. That is A OK! If you let them solve their own dilemma soon they will be engrossed in imaginative play or made up games.
To facilitate play:
- Provide longer periods of playtime – 45 minutes to an hour of uninterrupted play to allow creative and imaginative play to develop.
- Provide a variety of out door play materials beyond what nature provides: water, chalk, clay maybe even mud!
- Don’t squelch risk taking! If there is true danger, by all means intervene. Remember kids LEARN how to take risks and understanding risk taking serves us all well.
- Recognize the value of messy, rough and tumble and nonsense play!
- Take an interest in their play by asking questions and getting involved. Get involved on their level – do no directing! For example put on a funny hat and march around with your kids. Don’t change their play to be your play.
Outdoor play helps our kids learn to be creative and innovative while experimenting with socialization. They are also building self-confidence, self-esteem and self-efficacy. This is a lot of value packed activity that has everything to do with playing and nothing to do with academics.
Enjoy your play filled summer!
Parents, do you have questions raising your child with learning issues? You can raise confident capable kids despite learning issues. Reach out for answers to your most perplexing questions today!