Thursday, January 15, 2015

Go Play!

"Play is important to healthy brain development"

-Kenneth Ginsburg, MD MsED

In the report titled, "The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds" published in Pediatrics: Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Ginsburg states over and over what we here in the SRC know so well: Play matters! Not only is play a wonderful time for children, it is essential in developing critical thinking skills, inspiring creativity, establishing trusts and bonds, developing self-advocacy, and developing motor skills! The report addresses some of the trends in recent years away from creative and free play, and looks at some of the consequences. It also give suggestions for families and pediatricians on how to help.

Our kids work so hard each day on a variety of skills. You do too! Every day I am amazed by our families and the time and attention they dedicate to the success of their children. My blog today is to provide a little story where we captured some magic in the spirit of free play.

There is an art project adults have been working on to see if it would work for kids. Ultimately, it didn't work, but as a result, we had a balloon sitting at the table. A student walked into the free play area and asked for the balloon. And then another student. And then another. Suddenly, 6 students from 3 different grade levels were excitedly playing a game of hitting the balloon up, over and to one another! They used their words to advocate, they figured out how to get it around obstacles, they ran around and reached and batted up using a variety of muscle groups...they LEARNED so many things as they PLAYED. This game they happily created went on for 15 minutes. Our kids played one activity altogether, without adult facilitation, for 15 solid minutes. Once we transitioned to the next activity, it took a little while to get us refocused, to calm down. Words bounced around, "you're so silly!", "one, two, three, up balloon!", "so fun!". They created a positive shared experience. A bond we could never impress upon them, rather, that they created themselves with the time, space and opportunity for free play. I could not be more proud of each and every one of them, and I can't wait to hear about all the times this happens in your home!

If you are looking for more inspiration on play, this is a great TED Talk:
Changing the world one playground at a time

Go play! :)