I have been discussing the importance of outdoor play and play in general for children for many years, so when I came across this article in The Guardian recently, I was delighted to see others who are campaigning to keep kids active and playing.
One statistic from the article in particular that drew my attention was the following: “A 2016 study showed that children are playing outside for an average of just over 4 hours a week – half that of their parents’ generation”.
Unfortunately with the popularity of technology such as tablets amongst children on the rise and it now becoming a key activity parents are using to keep their kids occupied, this statistic does not come as a massive shock to me. I have witnessed first-hand the increasing amount of children who are lacking the muscle strength, fine motor skills and dexterity needed when entering Reception and even going into Primary School Years.
All of these skills are vital in being able to hold a pen or pencil correctly and in turn to be able to write legibly. With more and more children lacking these skills, this is creating an epidemic of poor development and handwriting skills across Reception and Early Years.
When you combine this with the trend of schools introducing the cursive style of handwriting from as early as Reception – where children are being forced to join their letters before they even know what each letter looks like on its own – how can we expect them to be able to master legible handwriting, especially if corrective support is not given or is simply not adequate enough?
Michael Rosen is a well-known author of some fabulous poems and children’s books and is featured sharing his thoughts on the importance of outdoor play for children in this Guardian article.
Rosen comments: “School is more and more devoted to pure instruction, and less and less time is given to play. We must have some free play: play as investigation; play as an activity that takes place without knowing what the outcome will be. I mean, how did any of our great inventions happen?”
We couldn’t agree more with his comments and we urge all parents, teachers and schools to make play, especially outdoor play, an important part of children’s lives.
The skills that play provides to a child stretch far beyond just physical development and skills needed for handwriting; it also helps children to think for themselves, develop problem-solving skills, social and interpersonal skills and much more.
I’d love to know your thoughts on the importance of outdoor play in the digital world.