Monday, January 9, 2012

Play is educational

Parents want their kids to be well-rounded: equally skilled academically and socially, with an appetite for fun and happiness. Why, then, are teachers gearing children away from play?

An article by Janice D'Arcy of the Washington Post said,
"Providers told researchers that they felt pressure from parents to keep children from vigorous play that might lead to injury and also pressure to focus instead on academics. ...[Another] barrier was financial, as some providers said their funds were too limited to purchase up-to-code safe, outdoor equipment. (An ironic twist in this finding is that providers told researchers repeatedly that these “safer” playgrounds were oftentimes the least interesting to children.)"
But is there a happy medium?

In the same article, Kristen Copeland, of the Cincinnati Children's Medical Center, responded,
“Children learn through play — through puzzles, games, and questions and answers. They also learn on the playground — they learn about nature, weather and the seasons, motion, concepts of distance and speed, and cause and effect. They learn how to negotiate and talk with their peers.
And, they learn fundamental gross motor skills, like how to throw and catch a ball, and how to skip. They don’t teach these in school. But children who have mastered these fundamental skills are more confident, and interact better with their peers later on in school.

Lastly, research has shown that children can concentrate and learn better after brief periods of vigorous activity. So ‘active time’ does not need to come at the expense of time dedicated to ‘academics’ and ‘learning.’”

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