Tag Archives: Children’s Play

Canadian study: Interrupting a child’s sedentary time has benefits

1 Dec

Moi wrote in Seattle Research Institute study about outside play: Play is important for children and outside play is particularly important. Kids Discover Nature has some excellent resources about outside play. In the post, 10 Reasons Why Kids Should Play Outside reasons for outside play are given.

1. K-12 students participating in environmental education programs at school do better on standardized tests in math, reading, writing and social studies.
Sources:
Abrams, K.S. (1999). Summary of project outcomes from Environmental Education and Sunshine State Standards schools’ final report data. Louv, R. (2005). Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder. New York: Algonquin Books. (p. 206) Louv, R. (2005). Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder. New York: Algonquin Books. (p. 206)
2. Children and adults find it easier to concentrate and pay attention after spending time in nature.
Sources:
Wells, N.M. (2000). At home with nature: Effects of “greenness” on children’s cognitive functioning. Environment and Behavior 32: 775-795.
Hartig, T., Mang, M., & Evans, G.W. (1991). Restorative effects of natural environment experiences. Environment and Behavior 23: 3-26.
3. Nature provides a rich source of hands-on, multi-sensory stimulation, which is critical for brain development in early childhood.
Source:
Rivkin, M.S. Natural Learning.
4. Children’s play is more creative and egalitarian in natural areas than in more structured or paved areas.
Source:
Faber Taylor, A., Wiley, A., Kuo, F.E. & Sullivan, W.C. (1998). Growing up in the inner city: Green spaces as places to grow. Environment and Behavior 30(1): 3-27.
5. Living in “high nature conditions” buffers children against the effects of stressful life events.
Source:
Wells, N. & Evans, G. (2003). Nearby nature: A buffer of life stress among rural children. Environment and Behavior 35: 311-330.
Louv, R. (2005). Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder. New York: Algonquin Books.
6. Views of nature reduce stress levels and speed recovery from illness, injury or stressful experiences.
Sources:
Frumkin, H. (2001). Beyond toxicity: Human health and the natural environment. American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 20(3): 234-240.
Louv, R. (2005). Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder. New York: Algonquin Books.
7. The ultimate raw material for much of human intellect, emotion, personality, industry, and spirit is rooted in a healthy, accessible, and abundant natural environment.
Source:
Kellert, Stephen R. (2005). Building for Life: Designing and Developing the Human-Nature Connection.Washington: Island Press.
8. Access to nature nurtures self discipline.
Source: Faber Taylor, A., Kuo, F.E., & Sullivan, W.C. (2002). Views of Nature and Self-Discipline: Evidence from Inner City Children. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 22, 49-63.
9. Nearby Nature Boosts Children’s Cognitive functioning.
Source: Wells, N.M. At Home with Nature: Effects of “Greenness” on Children’s Cognitive Functioning. Environment and Behavior. Vol. 32, No. 6, 775-795.
10. Children diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or attention-deficit disorder (ADD) showed reduce symptoms after playing in natural areas.
Source:
Kuo, F.E. & Faber Taylor, A. (2004). A potential natural treatment for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: evidence from a national study. American Journal of Public Health 94(9):1580-1586.
http://www.kidsdiscovernature.com/2009/08/10-reasons-why-kids-should-play-outside.html

Supporting Materials:

◦“The frequency of parent-supervised outdoor play of U.S. preschool age children,” study in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine: http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/archpediatrics.2011.1835
◦Blog post: Resurrecting outdoor play time: http://www.seattlechildrens.org/Press-Releases/2012/Resurrecting-outdoor-play-time/
◦Video: Dr. Tandon discusses the study on outdoor play of preschool age children: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=232Ikb7BvS0&feature=plcp&context=C428ef59VDvjVQa1PpcFMh6OAAkK4Ps-3tZQUCd4e837lwL3vOExo%3D
◦Video: Dr. Tandon offers advice on how she works to ensure that her children play outside: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1_Me951ZwQ&feature=plcp&context=C4ffda09VDvjVQa1PpcFMh6OAAkK4PsxZRiyM-qBEUVaDklEtIUq8

A study by Seattle Research Institute reinforces these findings.

Brian Toporek reported in the Education Week article, Regular Breaks From Sedentary Time Found to Improve Children’s Health:

The simple act of regularly interrupting sedentary time by standing up, on the other hand, could have beneficial effects for children, according to a study published last week in the open-access online journal PLOS ONE.
Researchers analyzed data from 522 children from Quebec, Canada, between the ages of 8 and 11 (286 boys and 236 girls), all of whom had at least one biological parent with a body mass index of 30 or greater. Each child used an accelerometer for seven days to track when he or she was engaging in light or moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and when he or she was sedentary. The children self-reported how much time they spent watching television and playing video games or using a computer.
Based on the data collected, the researchers calculated a “cardiometabolic risk score,” or a measure of risk for diabetes and heart disease, for each child. They used that score to determine which activities reduced the risk of cardiometabolic-related health problems.
The researchers discovered that children who frequently take breaks from sedentary time—even through the simple act of standing up every five minutes or so—could have lower levels of cardiometabolic risk than children who endure longer bouts of inactivity. ….http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/schooled_in_sports/2013/11/regular_breaks_from_sedentary_time_found_to_improve_childrens_health.html

Here is the study summary and citation:

Associations of Sedentary Behavior, Sedentary Bouts and Breaks in Sedentary Time with Cardiometabolic Risk in Children with a Family History of Obesity
Travis John Saunders mail,
Mark Stephen Tremblay,
Marie-Ève Mathieu,
Mélanie Henderson,
Jennifer O’Loughlin,
Angelo Tremblay,
Jean-Philippe Chaput,
on behalf of the QUALITY cohort research group
Published: Nov 20, 2013
•DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0079143
Abstract
Background
Materials and Methods
Results
Discussion
Conclusions
Acknowledgments
Author Contributions
References
Reader Comments (0)
Figures
Abstract
Background
Although reports in adults suggest that breaks in sedentary time are associated with reduced cardiometabolic risk, these findings have yet to be replicated in children.
Purpose
To investigate whether objectively measured sedentary behavior, sedentary bouts or breaks in sedentary time are independently associated with cardiometabolic risk in a cohort of Canadian children aged 8–11 years with a family history of obesity.
Methods
Data from 286 boys and 236 girls living in Quebec, Canada, with at least one biological parent with obesity (QUALITY cohort) were collected from 2005–2008, and analyzed in 2013. Sedentary behavior, light and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity were measured over 7 days using accelerometry. Leisure time computer/video game use and TV viewing over the past 7 days were self-reported. Outcomes included waist circumference, body mass index Z-score, fasting insulin, fasting glucose, triglycerides, HDL-cholesterol, C-reactive protein and a continuous cardiometabolic risk score.
Results
After adjustment for confounders, breaks in sedentary time and the number of sedentary bouts lasting 1–4 minutes were associated with reduced cardiometabolic risk score and lower BMI Z-score in both sexes (all p<0.05). The number of sedentary bouts lasting 5–9 minutes was negatively associated with waist circumference in girls only, while the number of bouts lasting 10–14 minutes was positively associated with fasting glucose in girls, and with BMI Z-score in boys (all p<0.05). Leisure time computer/video game use was associated with increased cardiometabolic risk score and waist circumference in boys, while TV viewing was associated with increased cardiometabolic risk, waist circumference, and BMI Z-score in girls (all p<0.05).
Conclusions
These results suggest that frequent interruptions in sedentary time are associated with a favourable cardiometabolic risk profile and highlight the deleterious relationship between screen time and cardiometabolic risk among children with a family history of obesity.

Citation: Saunders TJ, Tremblay MS, Mathieu M-È, Henderson M, O’Loughlin J, et al. (2013) Associations of Sedentary Behavior, Sedentary Bouts and Breaks in Sedentary Time with Cardiometabolic Risk in Children with a Family History of Obesity. PLoS ONE 8(11): e79143. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0079143
Editor: Melania Manco, Scientific Directorate, Bambino Hospital, Italy
Received: June 25, 2013; Accepted: September 18, 2013; Published: November 20, 2013
Copyright: © 2013 Saunders et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Funding: The QUALITY cohort is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (www.cihr.ca), the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada (www.heartandstroke.ca) and Fonds de la Recherche en Santé du Québec (http://www.frsq.gouv.qc.ca/en/index.shtml). TJS is supported by Doctoral Research Awards from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Canadian Diabetes Association (www.diabetes.ca), as well as an Excellence Scholarship from the University of Ottawa (www.uottawa.ca). JOL holds a Canada Research Chair in the Early Determinants of Adult Chronic Disease. AT holds a Canada Research Chair in Environment and Energy Balance. JPC holds a Junior Research Chair in Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research (www.haloresearch.ca). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
¶ Members of the QUALITY cohort research group are listed in the Acknowledgments
http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0079143

Our goal as a society should be:

A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood ©

Related:

New emphasis on obesity: Possible unintended consequences, eating disorders https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/01/29/new-emphasis-on-obesity-possible-unintended-consequences-eating-disorders/

Seattle Research Institute study about outside play https://drwilda.wordpress.com/tag/childrens-physical-activity/

Louisiana study: Fit children score higher on standardized tests https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/louisiana-study-fit-children-score-higher-on-standardized-tests/

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Play is as important for children as technology

16 Sep

Let’s make this short and sweet. Park your kid in front of the television and you will probably be raising an overweight idiot. Tara Parker-Pope has a great post at the New York Times blog. In the post, TV For Toddlers Linked With Later Problems Parker-Pope reports:

Toddlers who watch a lot of television were more likely to experience a range of problems by the fourth grade, including lower grades, poorer health and more problems with school bullies, a new study reports.

The study of more than 1,300 Canadian schoolchildren tracked the amount of television children were watching at the ages of about 2 and 5. The researchers then followed up on the children in fourth grade to assess academic performance, social issues and general health.

On average, the schoolchildren were watching about nine hours of television each week as toddlers. The total jumped to about 15 hours as they approached 5 years of age. The average level of television viewing shown in the study falls within recommended guidelines. However, 11 percent of the toddlers were exceeding two hours a day of television viewing.

For those children, each hour of extra TV exposure in early childhood was associated with a range of issues by the fourth grade, according to the report published in the May issue of The Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. Compared with children who watched less television, those with more TV exposure participated less in class and had lower math grades. They suffered about 10 percent more bullying by classmates and were less likely to be physically active on weekends. They consumed about 10 percent more soft drinks and snacks and had body mass index scores that were about 5 percent higher than their peers.

Well duh, people. You probably already knew this. Guess why you have feet attached to your legs? So, you and the kids can walk around the neighborhood and the park. Better yet, why don’t you encourage your children to play.

Alison Gopnik has an excellent article in Slate which reports about the results of two new studies, Why Preschool Shouldn’t Be Like School

In the first study, MIT professor Laura Schulz, her graduate student Elizabeth Bonawitz, and their colleagues looked at how 4-year-olds learned about a new toy with four tubes. Each tube could do something interesting: If you pulled on one tube it squeaked, if you looked inside another tube you found a hidden mirror, and so on. For one group of children, the experimenter said: “I just found this toy!” As she brought out the toy, she pulled the first tube, as if by accident, and it squeaked. She acted surprised (“Huh! Did you see that? Let me try to do that!”) and pulled the tube again to make it squeak a second time. With the other children, the experimenter acted more like a teacher. She said, “I’m going to show you how my toy works. Watch this!” and deliberately made the tube squeak. Then she left both groups of children alone to play with the toy.

All of the children pulled the first tube to make it squeak. The question was whether they would also learn about the other things the toy could do. The children from the first group played with the toy longer and discovered more of its “hidden” features than those in the second group. In other words, direct instruction made the children less curious and less likely to discover new information.

Does direct teaching also make children less likely to draw new conclusions—or, put another way, does it make them less creative? To answer this question, Daphna Buchsbaum, Tom Griffiths, Patrick Shafto, and I gave another group of 4-year-old children a new toy.* This time, though, we demonstrated sequences of three actions on the toy, some of which caused the toy to play music, some of which did not. For example, Daphna might start by squishing the toy, then pressing a pad on its top, then pulling a ring on its side, at which point the toy would play music. Then she might try a different series of three actions, and it would play music again. Not every sequence she demonstrated worked, however: Only the ones that ended with the same two actions made the music play. After showing the children five successful sequences interspersed with four unsuccessful ones, she gave them the toy and told them to “make it go.”

Daphna ran through the same nine sequences with all the children, but with one group, she acted as if she were clueless about the toy. (“Wow, look at this toy. I wonder how it works? Let’s try this,” she said.) With the other group, she acted like a teacher. (“Here’s how my toy works.”) When she acted clueless, many of the children figured out the most intelligent way of getting the toy to play music (performing just the two key actions, something Daphna had not demonstrated). But when Daphna acted like a teacher, the children imitated her exactly, rather than discovering the more intelligent and more novel two-action solution.

As so often happens in science, two studies from different labs, using different techniques, have simultaneously produced strikingly similar results. They provide scientific support for the intuitions many teachers have had all along: Direct instruction really can limit young children’s learning. Teaching is a very effective way to get children to learn something specific—this tube squeaks, say, or a squish then a press then a pull causes the music to play. But it also makes children less likely to discover unexpected information and to draw unexpected conclusions….

These experts in machine learning argue that learning from teachers first requires you to learn about teachers. For example, if you know how teachers work, you tend to assume that they are trying to be informative. When the teacher in the tube-toy experiment doesn’t go looking for hidden features inside the tubes, the learner unconsciously thinks: “She’s a teacher. If there were something interesting in there, she would have showed it to me.” These assumptions lead children to narrow in, and to consider just the specific information a teacher provides. Without a teacher present, children look for a much wider range of information and consider a greater range of options.

Knowing what to expect from a teacher is a really good thing, of course: It lets you get the right answers more quickly than you would otherwise. Indeed, these studies show that 4-year-olds understand how teaching works and can learn from teachers. But there is an intrinsic trade-off between that kind of learning and the more wide-ranging learning that is so natural for young children. Knowing this, it’s more important than ever to give children’s remarkable, spontaneous learning abilities free rein. That means a rich, stable, and safe world, with affectionate and supportive grown-ups, and lots of opportunities for exploration and play. Not school for babies.

Nancy Carlsson-Paige, a professor emerita of education at Lesley University and author of “ Taking Back Childhoodand writes about the value of play in the Washington Post.

In Is technology sapping children’s creativity?

Kids need first-hand engagement — they need to manipulate objects physically, engage all their senses, and move and interact with the 3-dimensional world. This is what maximizes their learning and brain development. A lot of the time children spend with screens takes time away from the activities we know they need for optimal growth. We know that children today are playing less than kids played in the past.

Researchers who have tracked children’s creativity for 50 years are seeing a significant decrease in creativity among children for the first time, especially younger children from kindergarten through sixth grade. This decline in creativity is thought to be due at least in part to the decline of play.

The Importance of Play

Play is a remarkably creative process that fosters emotional health, imagination, original thinking, problem solving, critical thinking, and self-regulation. As children actively invent their own scenarios in play, they work their way through the challenges life presents and gain confidence and a sense of mastery. When they play with materials, children are building a foundation for understanding concepts and skills that form the basis for later academic learning.

And it’s not only concepts that children are learning as they play, they are learning how to learn: to take initiative, to ask questions, to create and solve their own problems. Open-ended materials such as blocks, play dough, art and building materials, sand and water encourage children to play creatively and in depth. Neuroscience tells us that as children play this way, connections and pathways in the brain become activated and then solidify.

Technology, Play, and Learning

What children see or interact with on the screen is only a representation of things in the real world. The screen symbols aren’t able to provide as full an experience for kids as the interactions they can have with real world people and things. And while playing games with apps and computers could be considered more active than TV viewing, it is still limited to what happens between the child and a device — it doesn’t involve the whole child’s body, brain, and senses. In addition, the activity itself and how to do it is already prescribed by a programmer. What the child does is play according to someone else’s rules and design. This is profoundly different from a child having an original idea to make or do something….

Many of the companies that market electronic products for young children make claims that these things are educational. While the research on the impact of apps on learning is meager and mixed, I can imagine studies might show that children can learn specific facts or skills by playing interactive games — such as how to count to 10. But parents should not be fooled into thinking this kind of learning is significant or foundational. Games and apps encourage kids to hit icons that lead to right (or wrong) answers. This promotes a kind of rote learning, but it is superficial. For example, a child could get right answers on simple addition problems: 3 + 2 = 5 and 2 + 4 = 6 by repeatedly playing an electronic math game, but still not grasp the underlying concepts of number.

How Might Time on Screens Affect Relationships?

Quite a few years ago, I began noticing how easy it was for parents to turn to screens in challenging moments with their children. This first hit me when I saw a little girl who was in tears over saying goodbye to her good friend and her mom offered her a TV program to watch. Now today, there are almost endless opportunities to quiet our kids with entertaining games, apps, and screen time. But when we do that, are they missing out on the chance to feel, to argue, to sit in silence, to listen, to be?

Screens can occupy, distract, and entertain children for sure; the appealing game or show really “works” in the short term. But harmful habits set in early on both sides: for the child, learning to look outside of oneself for happiness or distraction in tough times; for parents, learning to rely on screens instead of our own ingenuity to soothe and occupy kids….

What Guidance Can We Find?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity recommend keeping children under the age of two as screen-free as possible and limiting screen time for older children. I think this is a standard we should aim for. And as we try to limit screen time, we can do a lot to foster our children’s play as well. Children need uninterrupted playtime every day. The chance to play with materials that are open-ended will encourage the deepest, most creative and expanded play possible.

We can avoid buying electronic toys, games and apps as much as possible. If a child is playing with an electronic game, we can try to introduce a more open-ended material. such as blocks. I did this the other day with Evan, a 3 year old who was visiting us. It was hard to get him away from his mom’s computer, but when I pulled out some construcion toys, Evan jumped at the chance to start building.

When our kids are involved with any toy or material, we can ask ourselves, “What is the potential of this activity for fostering imaginative play and creative problem solving? Is there a more beneficial, more fully engaging, direct experience available for my child right now?”

.The fact that parents today have the option of so much technology can seem like both a gift and a curse. At certain times and in certain situations, when no other choice seems right, we can breathe a sigh of relief that we have a screen activity available to us. But at other times, we can agonize because our kids are begging for screen time and we want to see them engage in more beneficial activities. Trying to follow the AAP Guidelines is often challenging and takes a lot more effort than the “quick tech fix.” But remembering what we know about how kids learn and grow helps to guide us. And our own ingenuity and inventiveness as parents is the best and sometimes most untapped resource of all. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/is-technology-sapping-childrens-creativity/2012/09/12/10c63c7e-fced-11e1-a31e-804fccb658f9_blog.html

In the rush to produce baby Einsteins and child prodigies, perhaps we are missing the creativity that play activities by preschoolers produces.

Resources:

The Importance of Play in Early Childhood Development                http://msuextension.org/publications/HomeHealthandFamily/MT201003HR.pdf

Why Play Is Important For Child Development? http://www.mychildhealth.net/why-play-is-important-for-child-development.html

Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills                    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=19212514

The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds

  1. Kenneth R. Ginsburg, MD, MSEd,
  2. and the Committee on Communications,
  3. and the Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health

Next Section

Abstract

Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth. Play also offers an ideal opportunity for parents to engage fully with their children. Despite the benefits derived from play for both children and parents, time for free play has been markedly reduced for some children. This report addresses a variety of factors that have reduced play, including a hurried lifestyle, changes in family structure, and increased attention to academics and enrichment activities at the expense of recess or free child-centered play. This report offers guidelines on how pediatricians can advocate for children by helping families, school systems, and communities consider how best to ensure that play is protected as they seek the balance in children’s lives to create the optimal developmental milieu. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/119/1/182.full

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Seattle Research Institute study about outside play

15 Apr

Play is important for children and outside play is particularly important. Kids Discover Nature has some excellent resources about outside play. In the post, 10 Reasons Why Kids Should Play Outside reasons for outside play are given.

1. K-12 students participating in environmental education programs at school do better on standardized tests in math, reading, writing and social studies.

Sources:
Abrams, K.S. (1999). Summary of project outcomes from Environmental Education and Sunshine State Standards schools’ final report data. Louv, R. (2005). Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder. New York: Algonquin Books. (p. 206) Louv, R. (2005). Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder. New York: Algonquin Books. (p. 206)

2. Children and adults find it easier to concentrate and pay attention after spending time in nature.
Sources:
Wells, N.M. (2000). At home with nature: Effects of “greenness” on children’s cognitive functioning. Environment and Behavior 32: 775-795.
Hartig, T., Mang, M., & Evans, G.W. (1991). Restorative effects of natural environment experiences. Environment and Behavior 23: 3-26.

3. Nature provides a rich source of hands-on, multi-sensory stimulation, which is critical for brain development in early childhood.
Source:
Rivkin, M.S. Natural Learning.

4. Children’s play is more creative and egalitarian in natural areas than in more structured or paved areas.
Source:
Faber Taylor, A., Wiley, A., Kuo, F.E. & Sullivan, W.C. (1998). Growing up in the inner city: Green spaces as places to grow. Environment and Behavior 30(1): 3-27.

5. Living in “high nature conditions” buffers children against the effects of stressful life events.
Source:
Wells, N. & Evans, G. (2003). Nearby nature: A buffer of life stress among rural children. Environment and Behavior 35: 311-330.
Louv, R. (2005). Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder. New York: Algonquin Books.

6. Views of nature reduce stress levels and speed recovery from illness, injury or stressful experiences.
Sources:
Frumkin, H. (2001). Beyond toxicity: Human health and the natural environment. American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 20(3): 234-240.
Louv, R. (2005). Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder. New York: Algonquin Books.

7. The ultimate raw material for much of human intellect, emotion, personality, industry, and spirit is rooted in a healthy, accessible, and abundant natural environment.
Source:
Kellert, Stephen R. (2005). Building for Life: Designing and Developing the Human-Nature Connection.Washington: Island Press.

8. Access to nature nurtures self discipline.
Source: Faber Taylor, A., Kuo, F.E., & Sullivan, W.C. (2002). Views of Nature and Self-Discipline: Evidence from Inner City Children. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 22, 49-63.

9. Nearby Nature Boosts Children’s Cognitive functioning.
Source: Wells, N.M. At Home with Nature: Effects of “Greenness” on Children’s Cognitive Functioning. Environment and Behavior. Vol. 32, No. 6, 775-795.

10. Children diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or attention-deficit disorder (ADD) showed reduce symptoms after playing in natural areas.
Source:
Kuo, F.E. & Faber Taylor, A. (2004). A potential natural treatment for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: evidence from a national study. American Journal of Public Health 94(9):1580-1586.

http://www.kidsdiscovernature.com/2009/08/10-reasons-why-kids-should-play-outside.html

A study by Seattle Research Institute reinforces these findings.

Here is the Seattle Research Institute press release:

Nearly Half of Preschool Children Not Taken Outside to Play by Parents on a Daily Basis: Study

April 02, 2012

Girls less likely to play outside compared with boys

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that pediatric healthcare providers promote active healthy living by encouraging children to play outside as much as possible.  Being outdoors correlates strongly with physical activity for children, which is important for preventing obesity in the preschool years and on through adulthood.  A new study led by Pooja Tandon, MD, MPH, of Seattle Children’s Research Institute found that nearly half of preschoolers in a sample representing four million U.S. children did not have even one parent-supervised outdoor play opportunity per day.  The study, “The frequency of parent-supervised outdoor play of U.S. preschool age children,” was published in the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine.

Preschool age children should get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day,” said Dr. Tandon. “But many preschoolers are not meeting that recommendation. Young children need more opportunities to play outdoors and to help them be more active.”

Preschool age children as defined by the study are those a year away from kindergarten entry, usually four or five years old.  Parents or guardians have the greatest influence on children’s behavior because kids spend the majority of time in their care. This is true even for children in child care, as preschoolers in the U.S. spend an average of 32 hours per week in child care.

Contrary to popular belief, researchers did not find evidence that excessive screen time on computers or watching television was related to less outdoor time.

Moms take kids outside more often 

Girls are less likely to play outside compared with boys, according to the study. And mothers took their children outside to play more often than fathers.  Forty-four percent of moms said they took their kids outside daily, compared to 24 percent of dads.  Fifteen percent of mothers and 30 percent of fathers did not take their child outside to walk or play even a few times per week.

Physical activity through play is essential for preschoolers’ growth and development,” said Dr. Tandon, who is also acting assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington.  “Outdoor play is also beneficial for motor development, vision, cognition, Vitamin D levels and mental health,” she added.

Racial, ethnic disparities exist 

The study also found that children with non-white parents are less likely to go outside with them for play.  Asian mothers were 49 percent less likely, black mothers 41 percent less likely and Hispanic mothers 20 percent less likely to take their child outside, compared with white mothers. 

Racial and ethnic disparities in rates of children who are overweight or obese start early on in life,” said Dr. Tandon.  “Children in a low socioeconomic status may have fewer opportunities to be active and play outside.”

Playmates, parents who exercise 

Preschoolers with three or more regular playmates were twice as likely to go outside daily.  Mothers who exercised more than four times per week were 50 percent more likely to take their child outside daily than mothers who did not report any exercise. 

The study findings highlight considerable room for improvement in parent-supervised outdoor play opportunities for preschool age children.  “Even if parents are not able to take their children outside to play due to logistics or time constraints, they can advocate for or insist upon it in child care or preschool settings,” said Dr. Tandon.  “If we can increase awareness of why it’s so important for children to be outdoors, there can be a cultural shift and our children will benefit in many ways.”

Dr. Tandon Offers Tips for Parents to Increase Outdoor Physical Activity for Kids 

  • If your child is in day care or cared for by others, ask about outdoor play time
  • Increase awareness among friends of why it’s important for children to play outdoors
  • Encourage and support girls in outdoor active play
  • Don’t let darkness or weather deter you from getting outside with your kids: Take a “flashlight walk” or a rainy day hike; invite your friends

Dr. Tandon shares these tips, and more, in a video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1_Me951ZwQ&feature=plcp&context=C4ffda09VDvjVQa1PpcFMh6OAAkK4PsxZRiyM-qBEUVaDklEtIUq8 

Researchers analyzed data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study – Birth Cohort, using a sample size of 8,950 representing approximately four million U.S. children.  The research was supported by the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development Mentored Scholars Program at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. 

Dr. Tandon’s co-authors were:  Dimitri Christakis, MD, MPH, Seattle Children’s Research Institute, University of Washington; and Chuan Zhou, PhD, Seattle Children’s Research Institute, University of Washington.

Supporting Materials: 

See, Preschoolers miss out on outdoor play http://www.king5.com/health/childrens-healthlink/Preschoolers-missing-out-on-outdoor-play-146486505.html

Children need to explore their environment.

John Tierney has an interesting New York Times article, Findings: Can A Playground Be Too Safe?

When seesaws and tall slides and other perils were disappearing from New York’s playgrounds, Henry Stern drew a line in the sandbox. As the city’s parks commissioner in the 1990s, he issued an edict concerning the 10-foot-high jungle gym near his childhood home in northern Manhattan.

I grew up on the monkey bars in Fort Tryon Park, and I never forgot how good it felt to get to the top of them,” Mr. Stern said. “I didn’t want to see that playground bowdlerized. I said that as long as I was parks commissioner, those monkey bars were going to stay.”

His philosophy seemed reactionary at the time, but today it’s shared by some researchers who question the value of safety-first playgrounds. Even if children do suffer fewer physical injuries — and the evidence for that is debatable — the critics say that these playgrounds may stunt emotional development, leaving children with anxieties and fears that are ultimately worse than a broken bone.

Children need to encounter risks and overcome fears on the playground,” said Ellen Sandseter, a professor of psychology at Queen Maud University in Norway. “I think monkey bars and tall slides are great. As playgrounds become more and more boring, these are some of the few features that still can give children thrilling experiences with heights and high speed.”

Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do. Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.
Mark Twain

Related:

Children need time to play and just be children                           https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/03/11/children-need-time-to-play-and-just-be-children/

The state of preschool education is dire                                                      https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/04/10/the-state-of-preschool-education-is-dire/

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©