Summer has arrived and the outdoors can be your child’s playground. But did you know that playing can be about more than just wearing off some of that endless energy that all kids seem to have? Playing can also be educational. According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children, when children play, they are learning and reducing stress at the same time.
What They are Learning
They are learning how to be physically active and building up strength and balance. The simple act of running and jumping allows for young children to develop their sense of self and an understanding of how their bodies work. If the child is playing with a friend, they are communicating, both verbally and nonverbally. They could be building (or tearing down) something as a team. They may need to help each other climb, or pick the other up if they have fallen. Maybe they are on a ride together that takes teamwork. Take the Crazy Cups, for example. The more they spin the wheel in the center, the faster the Crazy Cups will spin.
The social interaction and discovery of themselves learned through physical play is something that cannot be replaced by what is learned in a traditional classroom.
How They are De-Stressing
A young child soaks up anything and everything they see. They are learning constantly, which is why their environment is so important. And processing all of that information can sometimes be stressful. Even though they are children without the responsibilities that adults have, they can encounter stress. What compounds stress even more for a child is that they don’t understand the concept of stress and therefore, they cannot self diagnose. But physical activity and play can be a stress reliever for children, just as it is for adults. As the National Association for the Education of Young Children points out, “Play helps your children grow emotionally. It is joyful and provides an outlet for anxiety and stress.”
For some kids, play is the No. 1 way they learn. Getting outside and having your child discover new ways to play will mean they are discovering new ways to learn. Be an example and show them that you are never too old to play outside either. And if you feel adventurous, plan a trip to Funderland Amusement Park and let them discover the most fun place in the Sacramento region for kids. You never know what they may learn!