Our school system has decided to increase academic learning by decreasing physical activity. Our little guys are limited to only 15 minutes of RECESS a day! On top of that, many times students must choose between eating their snacks and playing on the playground (“snack time” was eliminated several years ago).
Aside from learning basic social skills through playground interactions, I’d like to bring to your attention many educational benefits of physical activity. PLAYING helps children LEARN by stimulating the brain! Wow! Imagine that!
When a child is grasping, crawling, reaching, turning, touching, walking, pushing, and pulling he is stimulating his instinctive,
reptilian part of the brain (the central nervous system). These physical activities help to develop hand-eye coordination, big motor skills, and prewriting skills.
While spinning, balancing, listening, swinging, tumbling, and dancing, the balancing part of a child’s brain (the cerebellum) is being stimulated. This leads to fine motor coordination, reading skills and writing skills.
By playing with other children, the emotional part of a child’s brain (the limbic system) is stimulated, which leads to security, love, bonding, social skills, cooperation, and confidence. These skills are important in helping children become caring, responsible citizens.
Even on rainy days, indoor recess is beneficial by stimulating the thinking part of the brain (the cortex) through activities like
stacking toys, assembling puzzles, making and recognizing patterns, playing word games, repetitive play, painting, and appreciating music. These activities lead to math and logic skills, problem-solving, reading fluency, spelling, writing, vocabulary, memory, and music ability.
Now that’s a lot of learning going on! I hope that when my 4 year old reaches kindergarten, he will get plenty of time on the playground, stimulating his brain through physical activity and social interactions with other children.
Julie Dozier McCrary