We Need Big Healthy Fun!
Despite the proven benefits to a child’s development, physical play is vastly disappearing. Recess has been increasingly reduced and replaced by test preparation and, in fact, physical play for children has decreased by 50 percent over the last forty years. Our children are now playing, on average, eight hours less a week than children did twenty years ago, and we are seeing the negative results. As children play they are developing critical cognitive, emotional, social, and physical skills, all of which are crucial to success.
Children tend to drift towards active play when the opportunity is offered, so why not give them more opportunities to move? With obesity among children at an all-time high, the promotion of physical play is more important than ever. The health benefits of physical activity are numerous, including: muscle growth and endurance, improved coordination, and the promotion of healthy bone development. But the perks aren’t just limited to the body; physical play can also boost performance in school.
Studies show that moderate to vigorous physical activity can improve a child’s executive function, which in turn boosts academic outcomes. It has been found that children focused on academic tasks better after recess than they did before it, and that children who were assigned five more hours per week of physical activity scored higher on standardized tests than their peers who did not engaged in the additional activity. The connection between physical play and academic success may not be immediately obvious, but recess and play may be vital to our children’s ability to learn.
Big Healthy Fun!
Here at Minnesota Children’s Museum we value physical play; it’s one of our foundational beliefs that “all children deserve a time and place to be children.” Zoom around Forces at Play chasing ping pong balls. Shop to your hearts content in Mini Our World. And of course, shake out your sillies and join in the fun during our daily drop an activity, Big Healthy Fun! sponsored locally by UnitedHealth Foundation.
We want to see you running, dancing, and jumping for joy.
Information compiled from The Power of Play: A Research Summary on Play and Learning by Dr. Rachel E. White.