Free play provides for healthy bodies, smarter brains, emotional well-being, and lifelong social skills. If this came in pill form, pharmaceutical companies would go crazy. But it doesn’t. It comes in a much better form. It’s a playground, a park, a backyard, and a school ground. It’s outdoors, sunny, breezy, rainy, snowy, dry, and muddy. Each place, atmosphere, and condition delivers benefits in its own unique and creative way. It’s fun, liberating, in the moment, an escape, and an adventure. It’s brain healthy, heart healthy, socially healthy, and emotionally healthy. Children need this. Adults need this.
“Free, spontaneous play and outdoor playscapes, both natural and built, are essential for the fitness, health, and development of children and for their adaptation to their culture, society, and world.” – Dr. Joe Frost, Ed.D; L.H.D
In the classroom, children learn math, English, and history as taught or delivered information. That information is solidified on the playground through communicating, keeping score, making up games, and imagination. Beyond that, play stimulates growth of the cerebral cortex by triggering a secretion of BDNF, a substance essential for the growth of brain cells. As Dr. Frost states, there are no chronological age limits on the benefits of free play.
So if you want to be smart and healthy … play.
China and Japan have some of the highest achieving students in the world. In theirs schools, students get short play breaks every fifty minutes. Coincidence? I think not. But, the play must be truly free. This is why physical education classes are not effective substitutes for free playtime. As adults, we tend to muddy the waters with too much thinking, imposing rules, and structure. We step in when there’s no need to. By doing so, we strip away all of the benefits of free play. This is not to say we don’t need phys-ed. Fitness, sports, and healthy competition also provide many important benefits.
According to Kathy Hirsch-Pasek, a child development psychologist who researches the benefits of play at Temple University, “Through play, kids learn to regulate their own emotions and master social rules.” Sounds good to me. Want more benefits? Through play, we develop a sense of self, resourcefulness, resilience, common sense, fun, friendship, awareness, exercise, belonging, group forming, creativity, experiencing ‘real-life’, imagination, freedom, discovery, … and the list goes on. Way on.
As Plato once said, “Life must be lived as play.” So, play on.
To learn more about playgrounds and park furnishings throughout Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee, please visit our main website at http://playdrp.com
Rob Wilson – Sales & Marketing Manager, Dominica Recreation Products