Search Site
  • Debating the necessity of childhood: why questioning recess is ludicrous

    For starters, it’s pretty absurd that I’m actually writing a post on why recess is necessary. Isn’t it obvious that it’s necessary? Turns out, it’s not. 40 percent of school districts in the US have reduced recess time and nearly 7 percent of school districts have eliminated recess altogether.

    As someone who makes an effort to incorporate playfulness into my own workday routine, I am very concerned about the unwarranted squeeze on recess. The thought of little kids, who should be tearing through the playground, spending all day at school being chained to a desk is scary.

    When are folks going to realize that recess offers much more than a chance for kids to work up a sweat? It benefits every aspect of childhood development and leads to better behavior and grades. So the fact that it’s being taken away from children as a punishment for bad behavior or to increase focus on academics is mind-boggling.

    Recess is the one time a day when kids go outside and are able to choose what they do. It is important for kids and big kids alike to take breaks and do things that someone else isn’t telling us to do. Do you remember the math class or homework from seventh grade? Probably not. But you’re much more likely to have fond memories of the made-up game that you and friends played for days together on the playground.

    Kids have big imaginations and we need to give them the space to utilize it! Demanding that they move less and sit more is counterproductive. Research, and our own common sense, tells us that we should be doing the opposite.

    Does your child get enough recess?

  • 2016 US Play Coalition conference

    The annual US Play Coalition’s Play Conference 2016 took place last month at Clemson University and focused on the importance of outdoor play of all types, including manipulative and nature play. Other central themes of the 2016 conference included redefining play, culture and community.

    The highly anticipated industry event brought together play researchers, park and recreation professionals, educators, health scientists, landscape architects, business and community leaders, psychologists, physicians and parents to discuss and promote the value of play for people of all ages and abilities. In addition to the keynote speakers, the Play Conference 2016 included networking opportunities, dozens of educational sessions and other presentations. My coworker and Playworld distributor in Singapore, Patrick Lee, spoke on how play is being managed outside of the USA.

    This year’s theme was “rebooting play” and the latest research, initiatives and practices in the field of play were presented. One hot topic at the conference was ensuring play is available everywhere for everyone – even in unexpected places like pop-up playgrounds and closed-off streets. In fact, my friend and colleague David Flanigan, director of grants management for KaBOOM!, introduced the idea and truly crystallized the play everywhere concept. If you haven’t already heard, KaBOOM! recently launched The Play Everywhere Challenge, a national competition that will award $1 million in prizes for the best replicable, scalable innovations in city redevelopment and design that help make play easy, available and fun for kids and families.

    I was honored to have the opportunity to speak about making parks relevant.

    Communities change continuously. If their parks and outdoor spaces do not change in parallel, societal needs and what is offered for outdoor recreation will be mismatched. My presentation focused on the trends that affect outdoor spaces, park and recreation funding trends and I shared examples of low cost ways to change the perceived value of outdoor recreation to the community.

    Unlike some events where there are people from the same field discussing various issues, this conference continuously brings together professionals from different disciplines to discuss the important issue of play.

    What issues related to play concern you the most?

  • The KaBOOM! Play Everywhere Challenge is now open!

    Science and common sense agree: kids need play to grow up healthy, resilient and ready for life. But far too many children miss out on the chance to play because of where they live, where they come from or how much their families earn. To make this a thing of the past and help cities create spaces and opportunities for all kids to play as they grow, Playworld is collaborating with KaBOOM! on the organization’s Play Everywhere Challenge.

    The Play Everywhere Challenge, which opened to the public this week, is a $1 million national competition that will award innovative, replicable ideas in city redevelopment and design that make play easy, available and fun for kids and families. The Challenge seeks creative and community-driven solutions that integrate play into everyday life and unexpected places – sidewalks, vacant lots, bus stops, open streets, and beyond. At Playworld, we’re excited to see the creative and awe-inspiring ideas the Play Everywhere Challenge generates.

    Designing meaningful play experiences and believing in the transformative power of play are central to our values at Playworld. We’re thrilled to collaborate on an initiative that will rally applicants who share our goal of promoting daily play as key to ensuring the health and success of America's kids.

    Applications are being accepted through May 31, 2016. Submit your creative solution to make play a way of life in everyday and unexpected locations.

    To learn more about the Play Everywhere Challenge and submit your idea, visit playeverywhere.kaboom.org.

  • Scattered showers with a 100 percent chance no one else will be at the playground

    Chantal Panozzo is an American writer who spent almost a decade in Switzerland. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and many other publications. The author of Swiss Life: 30 Things I Wish I’d Known, she is a mom to a four-year-old puddle jumping daughter. Together, often dressed from head to toe in rubbery wonderfulness, they continue to embrace the European lifestyle they once lived, even from their new home in the Chicago suburbs.

    My daughter and I both love Peppa Pig for the same reason: she joyfully jumps in muddy puddles. Being British, Peppa Pig goes outside when Americans don’t. My daughter—even though she’s also American—plays outside in less than optimal weather too. She can’t help it—she was born and spent her first three years in Switzerland, where playtime was almost always synonymous with outdoor time.

    Oh, to enjoy the weather. To really and truly sing in the rain instead of watching someone else do so in a movie. To see your breath in the cold air. To feel a snowflake on your tongue. But as I have learned after moving back to the U.S. after spending almost a decade in Europe, embracing the weather is un-American. We hide in our heated and air conditioned houses year-round, allowing our temperature-controlled surroundings to create the perfect climate for couch sitting while we wait for the four perfect days a year we consider the great outdoors great.

    As a mother in Switzerland, I didn’t think twice about dressing my infant daughter in an enormous snowsuit and placing her atop a picnic table at 7,000 feet above sea level while my husband and I drank in the cold Alpine air like its own après ski offering. We snow shoed through knee-deep mountain trails with our daughter on our back. We sat outside at Swiss cafes year round while our daughter sat bundled in a specially designed sleep sack attached to her mountain stroller. We hiked in the rain. We hiked when it was hot. We hiked when it was cold. And when our daughter learned to walk, she hiked in every kind of weather too.

    So imagine my surprise when we moved back to the States and I took my daughter’s collection of rubber rain pants, boots, and big coats to her new Montessori school only to find that they spent more time on her coat hook than on her. Weather has power over American children, not vice versa. The notes from the school told us just that when they reminded us of the appropriate temperatures for outdoor play.

    If you observe what most American kids wear, you wouldn’t know what season it is. Sweaters are worn in the summer since air conditioning allows us to forget its summer. Mary Janes are worn on snowy days since walking outdoors is not something a car culture encourages. And rainy days don’t inspire rain boots and rubber pants, but YouTube videos of British pigs jumping in puddles while American children, ever dry and climate controlled, watch them have all the fun.

    Recently, I visited a Finnish father of a 3-year-old, who had moved to New York City after living in Helsinki, Düsseldorf, and London.

    “I don’t get it,” he said. “My new son’s school tells me I overdress him. I’m just dressing him properly for the weather so he can play outside.”

    “Do you have those European rain pants too?” I asked.

    He nodded and I smiled. “Perfect. Let’s go to the park.”

    It was cold; there were scattered showers in the forecast but also a 100 percent chance that we didn’t care. As the kids joyfully went up and down the slides in a Central Park playground, my Finnish friend and I looked around, but there wasn’t much to see. We were in a city of 8.4 million, yet thanks to a few dark clouds, we had the playground to ourselves.

  • National Park Rx Day

    Have you had a healthy dose of the outdoors recently? If not, Park Rx Day is just what the doctor ordered. April 24th marks the first ever National Park Rx Day. Sponsored by the National Park Service, it’s a full 24 hours dedicated to promoting parks, nature and outdoor play in an effort to improve human health. In other words, it is a time to recognize just how beneficial nature can be to our well-being.

    Getting active and outside is more important than ever in this technology-filled era. According to the National Park Service, “Last fall, the U.S. Surgeon General released a call to action to promote walking and walkable communities. National Park Rx Day builds on this call to action and provides citizens with parks and green spaces to promote public health.”

    Today, like every other day, it’s important get outside and get active! As we all know, play is a critical piece of children and adults’ lives, alike. But people often forget that engaging in unstructured, outdoor play is just as important. Being active in the fresh air has various mental, social and physical benefits. Increased time outside can lead to improved mood, improved health and increased connections with community and nature. On National Park Rx Day, it’s important to recognize these benefits of the great outdoors.

    Parks present various opportunities for activities from walking on trails to playing on playgrounds to having a picnic. Each activity provides a chance to connect with nature in a different way – whether it be soaking up some sunshine or running off some stress on your favorite trail.

    The Surgeon General’s park prescription recommends you find your park and see how many ways you can incorporate play into nature!

    Luckily parents don’t need a MD after their name to provide this important directive to their kids.

    How will you observe National Park Rx Day?

Items 11 to 15 of 38 total

Page:
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. ...
  7. 8