Friday, September 24, 2010

Learning to Play

A new event, billed as the  Ultimate Block Party, is scheduled for Sunday, October 3rd in New York City's Central Park. Sponsored by universities and organizations that include renowned leaders in learning and the science of education, it is designed to give children of all ages an opportunity to participate in activities that build skills through creative play, physical movement, and language based games.

Why would organizations such as the International Mind, Brain, and Education Society and the Harvard Graduate School of Education link up with companies like Lego and Crayola for an event? They are all responding to the loss of something kids of earlier generations took for granted -- opportunities for creative, unstructured play, that got them moving, helped build social and communication skills, and kept them healthy. Sure, the rough and tumble of the playground was not always a happy place and the realities of our present day world  have prompted many parents to limit where and how their children play. But the lack of play time is taking a real toll on children. According to a report by the American Academy of Pediatrics, authored by Dr. Kenneth Ginsberg,  "Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth... Despite the benefits derived from play for both children and parents, time for free play has been markedly reduced for some children." 

So check out this event, or look on the website for opportunities to hold a similar event in your own town. And do what you can to get your kids off of the sofa and off to the park or playground.

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