As adults, we are constantly reminded of the importance of being fit and active. And whether it be a five a side team, a Zumba class, or a long country hike (I’m a fan of the latter!) , there is probably some form of physical activity you enjoy and engage in on a regular basis. However, is it as important for children to be so frequently active? There is a significant school of thought that suggests physical activity is, in many ways, even more beneficial for children than it is for adults. When children of a young age exert themselves physically, they are not just reaping the health benefits, but also developing their gross motor skills, allowing them to reach various developmental milestones. In this most recent blog entry I aim to emphasise the importance of physical activity in childhood, whilst also showing how Woodland Outdoor Kindergartens frequently promotes active play in a positive manner.
Jean Piaget was a renound psychologist and epistemologist known for his pioneering work in child development. According to Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, children at Woodland Outdoor Kindergartens will be in the pre operational stage of development. It is suggested that by this stage children should typically be able to preform various physical tasks such as balancing on a log or swinging independently on a swing. Whilst these may seem to be predominantly physical abilities, by learning how to utilise their gross motor skills and perform these tasks independently, our children are in fact also developing their cognitive abilities. This demonstrates how active play is not only beneficial for a child’s physical development but also their intellectual development. (N.B.When talking about developmental milestones it is important to remember that all children are different and it may take some longer than others to reach various milestones).
In 2016, a survey conducted by the Scottish Government suggested that only 45% of children between the ages of 2 and 12 participated in 30 minutes of active play per day. This prompted the government to launch the inactive to active strategy which aims to get Scotland significantly more active by 2025. Interestingly, the Government defined inactivity in adults as less than 30 minutes of physical activity per week. However, they defined inactivity in children as less than 30 minutes of physical activity per day. This supports my argument that exercise in childhood is more important than exercise in adults and provides explanation as to why we value active play so highly at Woodland Outdoor Kindergartens.
When I am at work, I often find it is not necessary to encourage children to participate in active play. This is because they are already doing it! Our children’s natural curiosity and desire to challenge themselves (see the last blog on resilience!) means children are motivated to climb trees, jump off logs and run long distances without any assistance from me or my colleagues (although we are careful to praise them for their active choice!). However, I do have a few techniques up my sleeve in case children ever need a little prompting; why don’t you ask your child if they have ever heard of my famous banana dance?!
That’s all for this week folks. Join me on the next blog, when I will be discussing the topic of summer in Pollok Country Park!
Info on Piaget:
Scottish Government Legislation:
Books on Physical Activities for Children:
Cheatum, B. A., & Hammond, A. A. Physical activities for improving children’s learning and behavior: A guide to sensory motor development. Human Kinetics.
Fun You Tube Video for Kids!