CHILDREN GET OUTSIDE THIS SUMMER AND LEARN THROUGH PLAY!
by Anita McCallum, Elementary Principal
Recently, due to the crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, children have been cooped up inside for extended periods of time. Our children in particular have been safe in their homes, rarely having the opportunity to go anywhere interesting or fun, let alone being able to go outside and play. As we receive advice from the government that we can increasingly use outdoor spaces, I strongly encourage families to embrace the chance to take their children to safe places outside so they can build important skills playing in a natural environment. We learn so much from being outside and playing with one another, and the summer holiday break is a prime time to make the most of it.
Here are four key reasons why playing outside is important:
- Nature is our world’s most powerful resource. The more time our children spend in nature, the stronger their connection with the earth will be. The children in the Elementary School at RAS now are the future custodians of our planet. If they feel a strong connection to our planet, it will help to develop them into powerful ambassadors for environmentalism. Unstructured ‘free’ play where the children make their own games and fun helps them learn and appreciate their local natural environment.
- Playing outside enables your child to learn through doing, one of the most powerful ways any of us can learn new knowledge, skills, and concepts. When playing outside, children are actively engaged with practical projects that enable them to ask questions, try new ideas, and solve problems.
- Unstructured play outside where the children determine what they will do promotes curiosity. “What will happen when I step in this muddy puddle?” “What will happen when I throw this pebble in the water?” Children are naturally curious and want to explore the world around them, how can you foster this outside this summer? It is the role of the adult here to stand back and let the child determine what to play and how to play it, on their own or with others.
- Learning social skills through playing outside is vital. As children engage in unstructured play, they learn to cooperate and work with others, a vital life skill all big businesses are looking for in their future employees! They negotiate game rules, narrate the play as it happens, share their emotions and learn about concepts such as patience, taking turns, and not always getting your own way. Again the role of the adult here is to stand back, observe and support where necessary empowering children to make mistakes and work things out together.
As we return to school for the new academic year in August, teachers will focus on settling children into the school environment so that they are all physically safe and can successfully adjust to being back in a classroom environment. We will focus just as much on their social and emotional development as we do on evaluating what next steps each child needs with their academic skills.
Learning by playing outside is clearly beneficial, but most importantly it is FUN. Our children are children for such a short time, so don’t blink mum and dad because you will miss it. Enjoy this summer with your children making memories and building skills playing outside together.