The following article is by Jessica Trumbull, an Early Childhood Director at Concordia Place in Chicago. Concordia Place serves children, teens, adults and seniors through their multi-generational programming. For information visit their website at concordiaplace.org or call 773.463.1600.
Get Out and Play!
“Children need to move – run, jump and climb. Boisterous play is an essential part of childhood. Motion is a part of their very being. The mind of a young child is always learning. In fact, some children absorb information best with their bodies are moving and exploring their environment. Brain Researchers are finding that movement helps new neurons to grow and natural pathways to develop. All this boosts learning, memory and focus”. — Heather Shumaker
Now that the cold winter weather is (hopefully!) behind us, it’s time to get out and play! Outdoor and active play is essential for children. Concordia Place values outdoor play time in all of our children’s programs. All classrooms have designated times to go for a neighborhood walk and use the play lots and our older children take walking fieldtrips to local parks.
We believe outdoor play is essential for learning because:
Playing outside helps children develop their imagination. Television, video games, computers, iPods, etc. don’t allow for imaginative play. Outdoor play and nature materials (i.e. grass, sticks) stimulate children’s imagination and creativity. Rocks, leaves and dirt present limitless opportunities for play that can be expressed differently every time a child steps outside.
Outdoor play encourages problem solving. Children who play outside learn how to solve real life problems. A child may have to figure out how many scoops of dirt it takes to fill their bucket, how high they have to jump to get over a puddle or how many sticks they can hold in each hand. Outdoor group play provides endless opportunities for cooperation and child-led problem solving.
Outdoor play brings together informal play and formal learning. When playing outdoors with their peers, children can incorporate concepts they have learned at school in a hands-on way. For example, seeing and touching the roots of a tree will bring to life the lesson their teacher taught about how plants get their nutrients.
Outdoor play widens vocabulary. While playing outdoors, children may see an acorn, a chipmunk and cumulous clouds. As they encounter new things, their vocabulary will expand in ways it never could indoors.
So make sure to get the family out to enjoy the weather and you may learn something too!