Tag Archives: Findings: Can A Playground Be Too Safe?

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/

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©
http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©
http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda ©
https://drwilda.com/

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 ©

Children need time to play and just be children

11 Mar

Children are not “mini mes” or short adults. They are children and they should have time to play, to dream, and to use their imagination. 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. …

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.

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

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

After observing children on playgrounds in Norway, England and Australia, Dr. Sandseter identified six categories of risky play: exploring heights, experiencing high speed, handling dangerous tools, being near dangerous elements (like water or fire), rough-and-tumble play (like wrestling), and wandering alone away from adult supervision. The most common is climbing heights.

Climbing equipment needs to be high enough, or else it will be too boring in the long run,” Dr. Sandseter said. “Children approach thrills and risks in a progressive manner, and very few children would try to climb to the highest point for the first time they climb. The best thing is to let children encounter these challenges from an early age, and they will then progressively learn to master them through their play over the years.”

Sometimes, of course, their mastery fails, and falls are the common form of playground injury. But these rarely cause permanent damage, either physically or emotionally. While some psychologists — and many parents — have worried that a child who suffered a bad fall would develop a fear of heights, studies have shown the opposite pattern: A child who’s hurt in a fall before the age of 9 is less likely as a teenager to have a fear of heights.

By gradually exposing themselves to more and more dangers on the playground, children are using the same habituation techniques developed by therapists to help adults conquer phobias, according to Dr. Sandseter and a fellow psychologist, Leif Kennair, of the Norwegian University for Science and Technology.

Risky play mirrors effective cognitive behavioral therapy of anxiety,” they write in the journal Evolutionary Psychology, concluding that this “anti-phobic effect” helps explain the evolution of children’s fondness for thrill-seeking. While a youthful zest for exploring heights might not seem adaptive — why would natural selection favor children who risk death before they have a chance to reproduce? — the dangers seemed to be outweighed by the benefits of conquering fear and developing a sense of mastery…

There is no clear evidence that playground safety measures have lowered the average risk on playgrounds,” said David Ball, a professor of risk management at Middlesex University in London. He noted that the risk of some injuries, like long fractures of the arm, actually increased after the introduction of softer surfaces on playgrounds in Britain and Australia.

This sounds counterintuitive, but it shouldn’t, because it is a common phenomenon,” Dr. Ball said. “If children and parents believe they are in an environment which is safer than it actually is, they will take more risks. An argument against softer surfacing is that children think it is safe, but because they don’t understand its properties, they overrate its performance….”

What happens in America is defined by tort lawyers, and unfortunately that limits some of the adventure playgrounds,” said Adrian Benepe, the current parks commissioner. But while he misses the Tarzan ropes, he’s glad that the litigation rate has declined, and he’s not nostalgic for asphalt pavement.

I think safety surfaces are a godsend,” he said. “I suspect that parents who have to deal with concussions and broken arms wouldn’t agree that playgrounds have become too safe.” The ultra-safe enclosed platforms of the 1980s and 1990s may have been an overreaction, Mr. Benepe said, but lately there have been more creative alternatives.

The good news is that manufacturers have brought out new versions of the old toys,” he said. “Because of height limitations, no one’s building the old monkey bars anymore, but kids can go up smaller climbing walls and rope nets and artificial rocks.”

Adults are trying to eliminate the risks of childhood and that simply is not possible.

Valerie Strauss has an interesting Washington Post article, Robbing kindergartners of play in the name of reform:

We used to debate how much academic work is too much for preschoolers and kindergartners to handle at their developmental stage, but over the past dozen years or so that has been increasingly drowned out by the rise of standard- and test-driven accountability.

Now all we hear is about getting kids ready for the rigors of rigor at school (“rigor” being an operative word today in education, even for 5-year-olds). That includes subjecting 5-year-olds to test after test.

Kids who can’t read in kindergarten and certainly by the end of first grade are at risk of being declared laggards. Boys, who generally develop the skills needed to learn to read later than girls, suffer tremendously from this pushdown of curriculum.

Try as they might, school reformers can’t change the course of human evolution. While kids are certainly exposed to more at an earlier age than they were even 20 years ago, their little brains and bodies haven’t evolved along with school reform thinking. They still can’t handle what they couldn’t back then.

Chip Wood, the author of the seminal “Yardsticks: Children in the Classroom Ages 4-14,” tells us what we need to know about 5 year olds. They are active and receptive, taking in things through their senses, and they love to play. He writes:

Every location in the classroom and at home appears full of possibilities. And fives know how to get the most out of each possibility for as long as it holds their interest. Play, of course, offers endless potential and is the five-year-old’s primary occupation. The adults may call it something else, like ‘Choice Time,’ but five-year-olds know what they are doing.”

It’s the adults who won’t let them play who don’t know what they are doing.

Since some kindergartners today are 6, let’s look at them: Six-year-olds, Wood says, “take on every activity, at home and at school, with unbridled enthusiasm,” “love jokes, silly songs, and guessing games,” and “love to be outdoors.”

No time for that in many kindergartens today. They have to do their math and literacy work.

Now the superintendent of the Hartford School District, Christina Kishimoto, wants kindergarteners at the district’s lowest performing schools (as measured by standardized test scores) to stay in class for 11 months a year instead of the regular nine, and stay hard at work. That leaves less time than ever for the thing they should be doing the most — playing.

Yes, it is true that many students, especially in high-poverty areas, enter preschool and kindergarten without the same literacy skills as students from middle- and higher-income families, and this puts them at an enormous disadvantage at school. And it is important for schools to learn how to help these students overcome their early literacy deficits.

But there are right ways to do this and wrong ways to do this.

Child development expert Nancy Carlsson-Paige has written in this article, “Through play children build the foundation they need to understand the concepts they learn in school, but play offers an even deeper benefit as well. Through play children continually regain their sense of equilibrium which is what allows them to greet learning tasks in school with openness and confidence—to have the emotional and mental readiness to say: I can do this task and I want to do it!”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/robbing-kindergartners-of-play-in-the-name-of-reform/2012/03/06/gIQA9NaM5R_blog.html

We must not so over-schedule children that they have no time to play and to dream.

Related:

The ‘whole child’ approach to education https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/the-whole-child-approach-to-education/

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©