What’s the best environment for kids to learn in?  What can we do to keep our kids engaged and moving?

PLAY!

Studies show that kids learn best while playing.  When multiple senses are heightened during an activity, the likelihood of learning retention increases and lessons or experiences will last longer. (1)  Think back to some of your favorite memories as a kid. Maybe it was a baseball game or building Legos® with a friend? Can you recall where you were, what you were doing and with whom? In contrast, how many details do you recall about a rainy day, when you were stuck inside? The likelihood of retaining details on a day where very few of your senses were utilized is not as great as the day you were engaged and having the time of your life!

Unstructured play is essential for a child’s development.  It provides the opportunity to make split second decisions and react to the immediate response from their peers.   They are free to express themselves without limitations and establish boundaries of risk. A game with very few rules that can be picked up quickly is usually the go-to game for most kids.  Has your child ever asked you to play “Man on Woodchips”?

Fitness can be used as a tool to tap in to many of your child’s senses.  The best part is that it does not have to be in a gym or on a field. It can be in or around the comfort of your own home.  Gather a group of friends and play hide and seek in the dark aka Ghost in the Graveyard. If you’re spotted while hiding you have to run back to base without being tagged.   The thrill of hiding, the excitement of being caught and the rush to sprint back to base all while in the dark employs many of their senses. Making time to play a game with movement as the stimulus and encouraging the fun will create lasting memories AND keep our kids active.

1.Singer DG. et al., eds. Play=Learning: How Play Motivates and Enhances Children’s Cognitive and Social-motional Growth. NY: Oxford University Press, 2006.

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