cedar-sandbox

Sand Box Garden

The Atlantic Magazine posted a wonderful article about the importance of play in helping stem anxiety and depression in kids. You can read the entire article here: All Work and No Play. Basically, kids need less adult-directed time and more free playtime together. As the weather is becoming nicer I love to see kids outside doing what they do best – PLAYING

The Atlantic article lists 5 ways play benefits kids:

  1. Finding and developing a connection to their own self-identified and self-guided interests.
  2. Learning how to make decisions, solve problems, exert self-control and follow rules
  3. Learning to handle emotions, including anger, fear and hurt
  4. Learning to make friends and get along with each other as equals
  5. Play is a source of happiness

In a local school this week I observed a class of 4 and 5 year olds on the playground. A large sand box with sort of dirty, wet sand elicited the creation of a garden. (Self-identified interest). Kids started digging with play shovels. When shovels ran out and kids started complaining, others offered suggestions to use sticks, wait their turn, dig with hands, or take on another job. (Solving problems). Some kids ran around collecting dirty, dead leaves to plant while others filled toy dump trucks to collect dirt and dump it on the planted seeds. (Making decisions). Kids then started talking about what plants they were growing. Some said flowers, some vegetables. It didn’t seem to matter. (Self-guided interests). When one boy began flinging dirt, the others told him to stop and to dig somewhere else. Happily, the child was able to move away and began filling a truck with sand to take to the garden. (Following rules, handling emotions). The sand box was filled with well-organized chaotic play. Boys and girls played together and all seemed to have jobs and ideas. (Getting along with each other). Best of all, they were all happy in their industrious, creative, pretend play.

throw sand

This may seem like a mundane scene that can be found on any playground. However, I wanted to highlight it here because we continue to pressure our schools and families to improve academics and keep up with children in other countries and cultures in math and technology. We also need to let the children play, for within the context of play, kids develop essential skills that enable them to flourish in the global economy. If our kids can learn to discover their self-interests and skills, make decisions and solve problems, self-regulate, handle disappointments, get along with others and find happiness, what more could we ask?