Many parents are not aware of this, but when children engage in play at playgrounds and in nature, they are building foundational skills for academic success. Playing outdoors is FUN for kids! It provides opportunities to make friends, build confidence, and encourage mastery of new skills. Below are some of the physical benefits to playing at the playground.
“Man’s heart away from nature becomes hard; [the Lakota] knew that lack of respect for growing, living things soon led to lack of respect for humans too.” – Luther Standing Bear
Nature is essential to our spiritual, mental, and physical well-being. Nature has so much to teach us about ourselves, the natural world, the interconnectedness of all things, how things work, and much more. In nature, we come to appreciate beauty, and we are more relaxed–if we allow ourselves to be. For me, nature is awe-inspiring: when I walk in the woods, I feel connected to life! Children, when allowed to really interact with nature, can be very creative. More and more our children are spending too much time indoors, and we see the results of this in their health problems. Here are a few ways to encourage your family to interact with nature.
Fine motor skills refers to the movement of the small muscles of the hands, wrists, fingers. Fine motor coordination involves the coordination and controlled movements of the hands; movement that is required to perform tasks such as dressing, self-care, cutting, pasting, coloring and writing. Having poor fine motor skills impacts children’s ability to perform many of the tasks required for self-care and in the classroom. Below are a few activities to strengthen fine motor skills.
“Good habits formed at youth make all the difference.” Aristotle
During adolescence, children require lots of time, limit-setting, and connectedness/caring (TLC). They need to feel like they belong. I’ve always felt that structured activities are great for teen years, while unstructured free play should be encouraged in younger children. Here are a few predictors of success that I have picked up in my readings.
ADHD, PDD, ASD–Mental health labels are used to describe a growing number of disorders. Are labels holding children back?
I recently went into a classroom to work with one of my students. I asked him to perform a task and he responded with, “I have ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder); I can’t focus.” My response was, “ADHD? Sounds like a bunch of letters to me.” He smiled, relaxed, and performed the series of tasks quite well. We had a pretty good session.
Given the right environment, children will find ways to explore, be creative, and gain knowledge. In today’s world, our children are faced with many factors that inhibit learning. Perhaps if we recognize what gets in the way of learning, we can make an effort to change things. Here are six factors that inhibit learning.
- Very little unstructured free play.
- Increased competitive sports.
- Parental expectations and pressure.
- Societal expectations and competition.
Children who are hyperactive need an outlet for their energy. Play and movement are one of the best outlets. Here are five simple ways to help them cope in school and at home.