RSI Corporate - Licensing

Less plastic, more trees: New effort seeks to reinvent preschool playgrounds and capture kids’ imaginations

Chalk Beat – Ann Schimke

“The idea is to create outdoor spaces that capture kids’ imagination, connect them with nature and keep them active in every season. Such efforts grow out of a recognition in the education field that healthy habits start early and boost learning. Step by Step staff members had talked many times about their stagnant play space. But it was hard to envision anything different until they attended a design workshop with experts from ECHO, a partnership between the National Wildlife Federation, Qualistar Colorado and the Natural Learning Initiative at North Carolina State University.”(more)

How Goofing Off Helps Kids Learn

The Atlantic – Lea Waters

“Savoring and gratitude are both forms of directed attention. But in contrast to that type of on-task focus, free-form attention is what the brain defaults to when it’s off-task, allowed to move in any direction it wants. It happens when the brain is in what scientists call the resting state. In the 1990s, neuropsychologists began to delve into free-form attention and found that it has many benefits, including for children’s learning and their brain development. To shift instantly into free-form attention, all an individual has to do is goof off. Now just any kind of goofing off won’t do. There’s a constructive form of goofing off that is restorative to the brain and therefore important for strength-based parenting—parenting that focuses on kids’ strengths instead of their weaknesses. Good goofing off is active; the mind is not simply being “fed” stimuli. Rather, the activity engages the mind in a way that simultaneously gives it free rein. Good goofing off happens when the person participating is competent enough at the activity that he or she does not have to focus closely on the process or the techniques.”(more)

Playgrounds aren’t always all fun and games

Medical X-Press – Staff Writer

“Playgrounds are supposed to be fun. But rusty bars, litter and poorly maintained equipment can make these seemingly kid-friendly zones downright dangerous, according to a group of emergency medicine physicians. More than 200,000 children are treated in the emergency department each year for playground-related injuries—a dramatic increase in recent years, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. And about 20,000 of those children get treated for a traumatic brain injury, including concussion, every year. Kids can also break a bone, or even develop internal bleeding due to accidents that occur on a playground.”(more)

Fidget toys polarize schools

The Star – Erin Silver

“Melissa Ferry is a big believer in the benefits of allowing students to use fidget toys in the classroom. She points to research indicating that playing with fidget toys — little gadgets, cubes, putties and spinners — is effective in improving concentration and focus in students with ADHD. She also has seven years’ worth of anecdotal evidence that shows how beneficial they can be for some children.”(more)

Participate in Play: Transform Your Artmaking and Art Teaching

Education World – Danielle Dravenstadt

“Give a child a mound of cold, squishy clay, and suddenly a world of shapes, textures, characters, stories, experiments, and inventions will soon be revealed. This is what I witnessed when I first gave my kindergarten art students Play-Doh, and what I see each time I allow my students to make art in this medium more often associated with the playroom than the classroom. What I first expected to be light activity now leads my students to serious investigations of what familiar materials can represent and opened my eyes to the profound thinking and learning that takes place when children play.”(more)

More risks on school playgrounds linked to happier children

Medical X-Press – Staff Writer

“Children from schools with greater risk and challenge in the playground environment report being happier at school and playing with more children, according to a study published online April 24 in Pediatrics. Victoria L. Farmer, Ph.D., from the University of Otago in New Zealand, and colleagues conducted a two-year cluster-randomized controlled trial in which eight control schools were asked to not change their play environment, while eight intervention schools increased opportunities for risk and challenge (e.g., rough-and-tumble play), reduced rules, and added loose parts (e.g., tires). At baseline, one year, and two years, 840 children, 635 parents, and 90 teachers completed bullying questionnaires.”(more)