, families and schools around the world are celebrating
Global Play Day
Psychologist Peter Gray, Global Play Day encourages sustained, unstructured
play for kids.
Dr. Gray explains
that the average child’s free time has changed significantly in the past 25
children today spend less time outdoors and what time they do spend outdoors is
often part of an organized sport activity. Other activities taking up our children’s time include structured
music, art, and dance lessons. Electronic entertainment also takes up a large proportion of our children’s time each day. While
all these activities can be fulfilling and fun for kids, they reduce the time
available for unstructured play.
play, without direct adult supervision, can take place in many
environments. The outdoors, in
particular, provide many opportunities for play that support imagination and
exploration of the environment.
You do not need to look further than the Ridgeview school playground to see
examples of this. Sticks, dirt,
leaves, rocks and water provide endless enjoyment for kids of all ages. Outdoor play affords kids opportunities
to experiment with the environment learning from their own mistakes and
many parents, in their concern to give their child every advantage and prepare
them as early as possible for higher education register their children for
organized lessons in literacy or numeracy acquisition, language study, or
sport rather than encouraging free play.
has been written on the importance of free play in the healthy development of
the child. Free play promotes
intellectual and cognitive growth, emotional intelligence, and benefits social
interactions. Play involves
problem solving and promotes executive functioning allowing children to plan,
organize, sequence, and make decisions.
Social and emotional intelligence strengthen through peer interactions
and physical movement that take place during play. For example, children must work together to decide which
game to play, what the rules of play are, and learn how to navigate the many
variations of their games as they unfold. Children learn understand varying
perspectives of the game. Through this
‘work’ children learn the social qualities of play: empathy, self-awareness, self-regulation and
flexibility. Emotional development
and physical health are also nurtured when children are engaged in active
play. The correlations between
play and learning are well documented.
In fact, unstructured or free play IS learning.
how can you incorporate more time for play in your child’s day?
physician Avril Swan, frequent blogger at Whole Family Medicine
provides the following suggestions:
Consider the number of
There is no magic right or
wrong number of extras, but if you or your child aren’t taking joy in the
activities or if the activities are eating all of your free time, drop one or
Change your mind set.
Successful adults are
programmed to be productive. Children are not small adults. Their play is their
work and is their productive activity.
Let your child go a little
outside your comfort zone.
Consider that a child
taking calculated risks in natural environments may learn and improve
their judgment. There is no teacher greater than experience. Learning how to
climb a rock or a tree now might decrease hazardous behavior later in life by
Practice letting your
child be bored.
As you might remember from
your childhood, we don’t need to have every moment scheduled, and, in fact,
some of the best creativity comes from being bored.
Play is one of the main ways children
learn. While many children have a
natural ability to play, others may need to ‘learn’ how to play well. It is very important that children play
with their peers and are given opportunities and extended periods of time each
day for unstructured play.
So, this Wednesday, on February 3rd,
please join Ridgeview staff in celebrating Global Play Day and encouraging
sustained, unstructured daily play for all kids.