Thursday, May 10, 2007

How Important is play?

Kerry Senchyna West Coast Kinesiology in Maple Ridge, Canada points out the Importance of Play

"Play seems, at first glance, a simple, trivial, frivolous, mundane activity, but it is an extremely complex activity that provides physical and social benefits that children can carry with them and help them to lead healthy lives into adulthood."

The importance of physical activity and play in the school and in the family setting cannot be overstated.

A paradigm shift in the way we look at play could increase the level of respect accorded to currently undervalued activities such as recess, physical education, the arts, and rich personal adult and child interactions.

We know that active brains make permanent neurological connections that are critical to learning; inactive brains do not make as many of these necessary neurological connections.

Recent research on the human brain demonstrates that play is a platform for development, a vehicle for increasing neural structures, and a means by which all children practice skills they will need in later life.

This phenomenon extends through the animal kingdom to all growing animals. They all show the need to play, and they all seem to derive extreme pleasure from their play activities.

Structured play, such as sports, allows children to interact with others in a way that is governed by rules (metaphors for society’s rules).

It gives them a chance to work together as a group toward a common goal, but in a way that advocates and encourages respect and fair play with others.

Unstructured, creative play allows children the chance to develop the ability to think and express themselves through verbal and non-verbal, symbolic communication.

Positive, cooperative play that emphasizes fair play tends to foster the social links that help to negate anti-social behaviour. Peaceful Playgrounds, a school recess program concurs and points out that conflict resolution skills and the benefits of recess are many.

Kerry Senchyna has a bachelor of science degree in kinesiology and is the owner of West Coast Kinesiology in Maple Ridge, Canada