Benefits of old-fashioned play

Benefits of Old Fashioned Play
Do you remember coming home from school, throwing aside your school bag and heading outside with neighborhood friends to play before dinner? I certainly do. We covered a lot of ground on bikes, found hiding spots in each other’s yards and imagined great themes to entertain ourselves for hours.  Our parents didn’t even realize what profound impact this play time had on our developing brains, socialization or physical health.

This type of play doesn’t seem as readily available to our children as it was to us. Particularly as the weather shifts there is a greater chance that our kids will experience more screen time and sedentary activities.  The activities our children have access to seem to be increasingly more  structured and directed. Screen time activities and independent play don’t provide the traditional lessons of play.

So, what is Old Fashioned Play and why is it so important for our children? Old Fashioned Play is often outdoors, includes physical movement as well as imagination. It involves children interacting with natural materials such as water, dirt, rocks, wood and grass. Other traditional and potentially indoor forms of play are dressing up household clothing, making forts and and using natural or household items for crafting. Within this play, children make their own decisions, imagine their own themes and negotiate their own rules.

Old Fashioned Play has specific and important benefits for children. The most significant being the development of a child’s executive functioning which is responsible for good problem solving, decision making and emotional management skills. In my experience working with children, their level of executive functioning is actually a better predictor of school success than intelligence. Old Fashioned Play also provides the necessary exercise for healthy physical development disguised as fun. The socialization that occurs during Old Fashioned Play is also important as it teaches children how to resolve problems amongst themselves, negotiate and imagine collectively.

Over the next few months, when you are planning playdates or what your child might do for the weekend, consider the benefits of Old Fashioned Play and open up opportunities in your home and neighbourhood for your child to experience this type of play.  

Visit our Play Quotes page for more inspiring play images and join Peekaboo Beans on our Play Revolution. 

No comments: