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America’s kids aren’t getting enough play time

The Week – Todd Oppenheimer

“Several years ago, Janice O’Donnell, the director of the Providence Children’s Museum, conducted a survey of public school superintendents in her community to see how much recess time was available to students. Virtually everyone who responded said they considered recess important, but only a tiny percentage of the schools actually offered it anymore. When O’Donnell started looking into why this was happening, not only in Rhode Island but elsewhere in the country, she was stunned by what she learned. Over the last 10 to 15 years, many teachers felt their students no longer had time for recess. With the increased emphasis put on standardized testing, their primary job now was to make sure students got high scores. Playtime could be handled after school. At other schools, especially those in crowded inner city neighborhoods, there was no longer any space for playgrounds, or even a basketball hoop..”(more)

Kids Should Play In The Dirt To Improve Their Health

Education News – Kristen Decarr

“Authors of a new book suggest that children need to be allowed to get dirty in order to gain access to certain microbes that they say are necessary to develop a healthy immune system. Authors B. Brett Finlay and Marie-Claire Arrieta argue in their new book “Let Them Eat Dirt: Saving Your Child from an Oversanitized World” that allowing children to get dirty will expose them to healthy germs that will actually help them in the long-run.”(more)

Fantasy play helps creative thinking in children

Medical X-Press – Staff Writer

“Engaging in fantasy play could benefit creative thinking in children suggests a study presented today at the British Psychological Society’s Developmental Psychology Section annual conference. Lead researcher Dr Louise Bunce of Oxford Brookes University said: “A growing body of research is investigating the influence of children engaging in fantasy on their development. We wanted to test whether children who engage in fantasy play are more creative. This is because, theoretically, playing in make-believe worlds requires imagination to conceive of the world differently to its current reality, which is also necessary to think creatively.” Dr Bunce and her team interviewed 70 children aged 4-8 years old to assess the extent to which their fantasy play involved.”(more)

Children need three hours exercise a day – Finland

BBC – Staff Writer

“Children should spend at least three hours a day performing physical activities, according to the Finnish government. Parents have been advised to actively encourage their children to pursue hobbies and interests that require physical exertion. Children aged eight and under have been targeted in the move. Finland is known for producing some of the most physically fit children in Europe. It also produces some of the highest academic results among schoolchildren in the developed world.”(more)

Working play into early childhood education boosts students’ learning experience

Phys ORG – Jim Carlson

“Incorporating play into early childhood education can lead to better schoolwork among preschool and primary-level students, research by a pair of Penn State professors has shown, and instructing prospective teaching candidates to follow that path should be a constant. Play has been an important part of teacher preparation in early childhood education because preschool and primary children learn through play and it is necessary for their development, according to Jim Johnson, professor of education in curriculum and instruction and program director for early childhood education in the College of Education.”(more)

‘Real play’ has an important role in early childhood development

China Daily – Dora Ho Choi-wa

“In Chinese societies, play has been considered a waste of time and energy, and is believed to be harmful to learning. Hence we have the Chinese proverbs: “Riding a hobby saps one’s will to make progress”; and “Progress in learning depends on diligent work rather than play”. But in reality, contradictory to such traditional Chinese thinking, during play children have to come up with solutions when faced with problems. This propels their cognitive development. Also, when children engage themselves in interactive communication with peers, they will learn some new vocabulary. In addition, the social context of a play environment requires children to regulate their emotions and collaborate with others. To elaborate, during play, whether they play or fight, they will have to assume several roles – a friend, a protector, a defender, a judge, etc, and they will have to learn to empathize, analyze, assess, share and so on. This promotes children’s affective, emotional and social development. Besides, playing involves physical activity and this improves their bodily development so children grow up healthy. In view of the advantages mentioned so far, play does not sap children’s will but helps them to gain all-round personal development.”(more)