Check out our new video, Parents at the Playground, on YouTube! The first in our new video series, this is a homemade, Flip Cam video of interviews with REAL parents at the playground. See what parents just like you have to say about their experiences at park and why they feel that play is an important aspect of their child’s day. Don’t forget to leave us a comment about your own thoughts on play–we would love to hear from you!
By Tim Ahern
We all want bright kids. We want them to get a running start so that when they enter school, they’re ready to excel at reading, math and such from the very beginning.
But sometimes I worry that those with the highest ambitions for their kids may focus so much on the mind that they neglect the need for play and exercise. That’s why it concerned me to read that a recent study by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital found that children between ages 3 and 6 may not be getting enough exercise.
Even more of a concern is the reason: Some of the day care providers said they feel pressured by parents to make outdoor time a lower priority. Some also worry about injuries or seek to avoid playground upkeep costs.
The study included 49 child care centers in the Cincinnati area. Despite the limited geographic scope, I believe the results reflect the reality you’d find anywhere in the country. The study was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Kristen Copeland, M.D., the study’s main author, told WCPO-TV in Cincinnati that “child care providers told us that many parents were more focused on their children learning cognitive skills … than on recess. And yet child care providers realized that some of the most valuable lessons in science, nature, cause and effect, and even important social skills such as problem-solving and peer negotiation, all come from playing outdoors on the playground.”
Sadly, neglecting outdoor play can backfire academically. The American Academy of Pediatrics says free and unstructured play is essential to a child’s development in and out of the classroom. “The challenge for society, schools and parents is to strike the balance that allows all children to reach their potential, without pushing them beyond their personal comfort limits, and while allowing them personal free time,” the report says.
For our part, we’ll just keep producing the best playgrounds possible. We’re constantly researching new possibilities for helping kids exercise their bodies and their imaginations.
by Mary Kate Joyce
Last week I spent a sunny day canvassing different playgrounds around Pittsburgh and its bordering suburbs. From quaint neighborhood parks to Disney worthy play zones, I noticed that all of the playgrounds had one common theme: laughing children. The soundtrack to my day in the park ranged from giggles to chuckles to downright hysterics, and it seemed that all of the kids were having the times of their lives. Whether their silly, smiley dispositions were a result of fresh summer air or slick slides, the park seemed to bring out the best attitude in every child. Hopefully you and your child can get out to play this summer; and to experience some fun summer smiles for yourself!
Be on the lookout for our new series of YouTube videos, Parents at the Playground and Kids at Play, where I captured video of real children and parents playing, laughing and learning at the parks I visited. Also, feel free to send us footage of you and your child playing and we will be happy to post it on our blog or Facebook fan page!