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Playground-related brain injuries on the rise

CBS News – Kathleen Doheny

“For some kids, playgrounds aren’t all fun and games. Playground-related brain injuries have risen significantly in the United States over the last decade, health officials say. Despite improvements in playground safety and design, between 2001 and 2013, emergency rooms treated an average of 21,000 playground-related traumatic brain injuries annually among kids 14 and younger. The statistics were compiled for a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”(more)

10 ways to help kids fall in love with being outside

The Washington Post – Lauren Knight

“Spring is in full swing: The buds on the trees have opened, birds are chirping, and children are eager to go outside and get muddy. Unless, that is, they are like the fourth-grader author Richard Louv spoke to for his book “Last Child in the Woods.” “I like to play indoors better ’cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are,” the child told Louv. According to extensive research Louv and others have conducted since the 1980s, spending time in nature has tremendous benefits, including improved concentration, better motor coordination, improved overall cognitive functioning and a greater ability to engage in creative play. It has also been said to help with the symptoms of mental illness…So how do we get them out there, particularly those who are used to being inside, plugged in or shuffled from one structured, adult-led activity to the next? Here are 10 ways to get children excited about spending more time outside and how to make it fun for everyone.”(more)

Are you developing your child’s sixth sense?

Queen Anne & Magnolia News – Nate Clem

“Can you close your eyes and touch your nose? Can you stand on one foot? Balance is very important and is something that we often take for granted. The sensory system is the primary system that sets the foundation for higher brain centers to grow upon. We are all very familiar with the five basic senses: touch, taste, seeing, hearing and smell. It is through these basic pathways that babies create neurological connections and their perception of life outside of the womb. Two equally important sensory systems, which aren’t as commonly recognized, begin to take on a dominant role as babies begin to coordinate movements and have greater interactions with the world. These two systems are known as the proprioceptive system and the vestibular system…Proprioceptive input is important for a child’s development because it helps them to feel a sense of self, aids in self-regulation and promotes success in both fine motor and gross motor activities…Children need a daily dose of “brain food,” such as running, skipping, jumping, climbing, swinging and crawling. In addition, children need activities that involve movement of both sides of the body. When they are young, expose them to a variety of different textures, especially on their hands, feet and face. Get them moving and let them be kids, and while you are at it you might want to join in!”(more)

The educational value of recess

The Notebook – Fabiola Cineas

“According to a 2013 policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatricians, having recess helps students process the information they learn in the classroom. Children develop their cognitive understanding through interactive, manipulative experiences, the report said. And children process information best when a period of interruption follows a period of concentrated instruction. Unstructured social environments make kids more attentive and productive in the classroom, the academy reported.”(more)

Kids need an exercise plan, right? Wrong. Here’s what they really need.

The Washington Post – Valerie Strauss

“I was in the middle of feeding my baby boy, when the phone rang. “I need your help,” the person on the other line said. It was an old friend of mine. “Our school is making it mandatory that the children walk laps during recess time.” She went on to tell me that their recess was only 20 minutes long and that walking a few laps at the start of every session was now encroaching on their already extremely limited amount of free play during school hours. The physical education teacher had implemented the new policy in order to get children more active. I honestly believe that the school has the best of intentions. They truly want to help the children. With an epidemic of obesity among children, many schools are searching for the best way to help children become more physically fit and healthy. However, we are going about it all wrong. If we truly want children to be strong and physically adept, we need to start allowing for more opportunities for free play and less adult-directed movement activities. Here’s why.”(more)

Kids need an exercise plan, right? Wrong. Here’s what they really need.

The Washington Post – Valerie Strauss

“With an epidemic of obesity among children, many schools are searching for the best way to help children become more physically fit and healthy. However, we are going about it all wrong. If we truly want children to be strong and physically adept, we need to start allowing for more opportunities for free play and less adult-directed movement activities. Here’s why:…A child’s neurological system is designed to naturally seek out the sensory input it needs on its own. For instance, if a child is spinning around in circles, it is because they are ready for that sensory input. Another child may not need or want to spin…The child is the best indicator on what type of movement they need at any given time. How do we respect children’s need to move in different ways? By simply allowing them plenty of time and space for free play. It is during free play, where children move and challenge their bodies in new ways, constantly testing their limits and getting to the next developmental level.”(more)