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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)

Why Kids Need Unstructured Play—And Why They’re Not Getting It

Independent Women’s Forum – Rachel DiCarlo Currie

“…here’s what a team of researchers from the University of Virginia concluded after studying changes in U.S. public-school kindergarten classrooms between 1998 and 2010: Our findings suggest a shift toward more challenging (and potentially more engaging) literacy and math content. However, they also highlight a concerning drop in time spent on art, music, science, and child-selected activities…As the UVA team indicated, there are potential benefits to the new regime. Yet it is indeed troubling that, in their eagerness to make kindergarten more “academic,” teachers and administrators seem to be reducing opportunities for children to explore their imaginations, improve their creativity, and cultivate key social skills…All of this has implications for children’s brain development. “The experience of play”—unstructured play, that is—“changes the connections of the neurons at the front end of your brain,” University of Lethbridge scientist Sergio Pellis has explained. “And without play experience, those neurons aren’t changed.”…The bottom line is that, far from being a frivolous distraction, unstructured play is an essential complement to classroom instruction.”(more)

Physical Activity Primes Children’s Brains For Academic Excellence, Finds Study

Medical Daily – Lecia Bushak

“By now, researchers have pretty much solidified the notion that exercise is good for physical and mental health. One recent study, for example, found that running preserves a protein in the brain that protects cognitive function and improves memory. But in light of the childhood obesity epidemic, how can we encourage children to exercise more? In a new report, 24 researchers from eight different countries gathered to create a consensus on the impact of physical activity on kids’ health. They focused primarily on studies that examined the health of children aged 6 to 18, and analyzed the effects of exercise on children’s fitness, health, cognitive function, motivation, and mental and social health. The report defines physical activity as “an overarching term that consists of many structured and unstructured forms within school and out-of-school-time contexts, including organized sports, physical education, outdoor recreation, motor skill development programs, recess, and active transportation such as biking and walking.'”(more)