Active Play

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Movement is one of the most essential functions of the human body when it comes to staying healthy; and, luckily for us, children are born with endless enthusiasm for physical activity. Unfortunately, their need to move doesn’t always fit into society’s ‘big picture’ and idleness becomes part of their social conditioning.

It is much harder for a teacher to control 20 moving targets rather than 20 sedate ones seated at desks, bogged down with busywork. So, our children become indoctrinated to the idea of what ‘acceptable behavior’ is, and those who cannot abide by the rules are labeled as ill or dysfunctional.

Later, as adults, we realize that exercise is critical for health. So, we schedule planned movement sessions that many of us don’t enjoy because they are not organic or spontaneous, but just one more thing we MUST add to the day’s agenda.

 

 

So, why is movement not a part of every child’s curriculum? Not planned or scheduled movement but play. Play is more than exercise. Play is different in that it allows children to cultivate their imaginations, their social and problem-solving skills, and it allows them to push themselves to any limit they wish. And since young children cannot quite grasp their own limitations, play is far more beneficial to their overall development than a planned activity. Enrolling your child in a swim or soccer team may be wonderful for them, but it is not a substitution for spontaneous play.

Another important skill that children learn through play has to do with their internal needs. Children need play as a tool for exploration into what makes them happy. When a child is bored, not providing them with an activity forces them to do the introspective work to discover what they enjoy. Many adults struggle to find activities that spark joy in their lives because they were deprived of this opportunity of self-discovery as children. This is an organic learning process. Not everything can be taught. Some things need to be learned, and the only way for children to do this is by coming face-to-face with themselves.

Social skills are also developed through play. There is no comparison between being assigned a group project and having to figure out how to work together and being with a few people whose company you simply enjoy. These are two completely different lessons: teamwork in a business sense versus getting along with the community, meeting new people, sharing time, cooperating for the sake of existence.

There are so many important benefits to play. So, no matter how fast you want your child to proceed academically, play should always be incorporated into their daily life as it's not only important to their physical health but also to their mental health and their ability to learn critical thinking patterns organically.

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