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Playgrounds for All

The Atlantic – Gail Cornwall

“On a crisp, sunny Saturday morning in February, the yard surrounding San Francisco’s Alvarado Elementary School buzzes with activity. Adept climbers grunt as they swing along three sets of monkey bars, scooters zip across the blacktop, and basketballs bounce alongside playful jibes between parents and children. Over it all, a toddler’s jubilant squeal rings out. Ten years ago silence and stillness would have reigned on the weekend, the gates of the chain-link fence locked. The need for open space can be dire in dense urban environments, especially amid an epidemic of obesity. According to a 2013 report by the nonprofit NYC Global Partners, in 2007 2.5 million New Yorkers lived farther than a 10-minute walk to a park. Meanwhile, “most schoolyards were locked to the surrounding community all summer, every weekend, and every evening.” In many places, they still are.”(more)

Go Outside and Play: Tips to Get Kids Moving

Live Science – Cari Nierenberg

“Making fitness a regular part of a child’s day has its challenges. For one, kids today have replaced outdoor play with sedentary pursuits, such as computer-based games, texting or Instagramming…In addition, schools might have only limited time set aside for students to have recess or physical education classes…For all of these reasons, parents should try to provide children with as many opportunities as possible to play, move and be physically active before school, after school or during weekends…Live Science asked these two fitness experts to suggest ways that parents can help kids, from toddlers to teenagers, to get outdoors and be fit. Here is what they said.”(more)

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)