Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Why Kids Need to Play

Over at Care2, they list the reasons kids need to get out and play while at school.  With standardized testing increasing, things like P.E. and recess have been suffering or just cut altogether.  Kids today are less active than they were just a few years ago.  It is bad enough that parents are now often encouraged to drive their kids to school rather than have them walk and/or ride their bikes for the sake of "safety."  Safety in general has been a huge excuse to limit kids from having normal happy healthy childhoods.

Check out some of the reasons kids need to play.

Cognitive development: Numerous studies show how much better students do at school once they have moved around, stepped outside, and got the oxygen flowing. Studies show that just being exposed to the outdoors can improve memory, concentration and grades. The pace of play in nature is self-regulated and thus can increase attention span and stimulate the senses.
Physical development: The decline of playtime in our schools is closely link to childhood weight problems. With one third of our youngsters either overweight or obese, this is a serious issue. Most adolescents fall short of the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommendation of at least 60 minutes of aerobic physical activity each day. Daily, quality physical education in school can help students meet the Guidelines. However, in 2009 only 33% attended daily physical education classes.
* Creativity: Kids today are becoming less creative and imaginative than they used to be. In a 2010 study of about 300,000 creativity tests going back to the 1970s, Kyung Hee Kim, a creativity researcher at the College of William and Mary, found creativity has decreased among American children in recent years. Since 1990, children have become less able to produce unique and unusual ideas. They are also less humorous, less imaginative and less able to elaborate on ideas, Kim said.
* Mind and body: Children in Finnish elementary schools—who get an average of 75 minutes of recess a day—consistently rank higher than U.S. children in International Student Assessment Scores. (By comparison, the U.S. average is 27 minutes a day.) In comparison to the United States and many other industrialized nations, the Finns have implemented a radically different model of educational reform—based on a balanced curriculum and professionalization, not testing.
* Too much busywork: Reviews of homework studies reveal very little correlation between the amount of homework and achievement in elementary school. One of the best-known experts, Harris Cooper, Ph.D, a professor and director of education at Duke University, has reviewed over a hundred studies on the effectiveness of homework. In general, he has found that the benefits of doing homework depend on the student’s grade level. In elementary school it has no measurable effect on achievement, although it may help children develop good study skills.

The only way to get kids back outside is for parents and teachers to stand up for kids.  Speak to your school board and principals about the benefits of kids at play.

Above pictures from Empowered by Play and Life Magazine.

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