Category Archives: Play

Back to basics. Play is the cheapest form of entertainment. Toys are as simple as sticks and rocks and cardboard boxes. The importance of deep play and free play for your child’s development is not to be overlooked.

ParticipACTION 2015 Health Report Card

“As Dr. Mark Tremblay, the chief scientific officer of the ParticipACTION Report Card says, we have lost the balance between short-term safety and long-term health.  In outdoor play, risk doesnt mean courting danger, but rather giving kids the freedom to assess their surroundings and make decisions, allowing them to build confidence, develop skills, solve problems and learn limits.  Not only will kids move more if theyre outside, playing freely, but theyll be set up to be more resilient and less likely to develop chronic diseases in the long run.

What many adults recall from their childhood as thrilling and exciting play that tested boundaries such as exploring the woods, rough housing, moving fast or playing at heights is often called risky play these days. While these activities could lead to injuries, the vast majority are minor.”

Read the whole media release here > 

You can also download the full report from the ParticipACTION website.

Children Need Unbounded Outdoor Play

Cognoscenti contributor John Less argues his reasons for advocating why children need to play and explore outdoors.

For children, the difference between observing creatures in a zoo or aquarium and catching a tadpole or a turtle in a pond is geometric. Feeling a live and wild animal wriggle in one’s palm is a different experience from seeing specimens in a controlled environment. Returning that creature back into its habitat, and doing it safely and with compassion, is equally important and rewarding. ‘Catch and release’ is a fundamental life experience that can only be learned in nature, and it is a core value of our humanity.

Read full article here >>

Risk is essential to childhood – as are scrapes, grazes, falls and panic

The Guardian author Kate Blinco hits the nail on the head with her article discussing the value of risky play for children and why parents need to back off and let their kids get bruised.

Children need to be exposed to risky play. For ‘helicopter parents’, this might be difficult – but kids need to learn to manage danger themselves

Risk is an essential component of a balanced childhood. Exposure to healthy risk, particularly physical, enables children to experience fear, and learn the strengths and limitations of their own body. However, before you book a one-way ticket to Beachy Head for you and the toddler, or dump the iPad-loving six-year-old in the woods with just a compass, let’s think about this more carefully.

For this generation of children, shuttled from padded soft play, to school, to club, to sofa, we’ve got a lot of work to do before they come over all Bear Grylls. As parents, many of us are unaccustomed to allowing even the tiniest degree of danger to enter the lives of our children. Surely it’s the job of a good parent to keep them safe? That’s why roaming distance (how far children play from home)has decreased by 90% in the past 30 years.

Read the full article here >>

The Flip Flop Factor

Why Day Care Kids Don’t Play Outside

Article originally published by the New York Times

Outdoor play at day care centers is often stifled because a child arrives wearing flip-flops or without a coat or because teachers don’t feel like going outside.

Those were some of the surprising findings from a new study of children’s physical activity in day care settings. More than half of American children between the ages of 3 and 6 are in child care centers or preschools.

Researchers at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center held focus groups with staff members at 34 area child care centers to learn more about how kids spend their time in day care and the reasons they may or may not spend time outside.

Many of their answers were unexpected. Day care workers keep children inside if they show up in flip-flops rather than sneakers or if they don’t have a coat on a chilly day. Sometimes, the entire class is kept indoors if one child doesn’t have appropriate clothes for outdoor play. One problem is that parents who don’t want their child going outside on a given day will intentionally keep the child’s coat so he or she will be kept indoors.

One surprising problem the researchers learned was about the mulch used to landscape playgrounds and outdoor spaces at day care centers. Staff members complained that kids eat the mulch or use it as weapons, or it gets caught in their shoes, making outdoor play troublesome for teachers.

“It’s certainly not something that we had anticipated as an issue, but judging by the amount of and intensity of the discussions among child care teachers, it really is,” said Dr. Kristen Copeland, assistant professor of pediatrics and the study’s lead author.

The feelings of teachers and parents also influenced whether children played outside. Although children learn important gross motor and social skills on the playground by learning to kick a ball or negotiate with another child for a turn on the swing, teachers said they felt pressure from some parents who were more concerned with children spending time on academic skills like reading and writing.

Some workers said outdoor play is too much trouble because it requires time to bundle up kids during cold weather. Other staff members just said they didn’t like going outside.

“Finding out what the barriers are is the first step in addressing the problem and getting more kids involved in more much-needed physical activity,” Dr. Copeland said.

The research, which was funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, was presented Monday at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Honolulu.

Charter For Children’s Play

Children play best:

When adults are watchful but not intrusive, when safe ground lends courage to their discoveries and adventures.

When their trust in life is whole, when they welcome the unknown and are fearless.

When the world is shared with them. When there are places and spaces they can make their own.

When their games are free from adult agendas and when their transformations require no end-product.

When their senses are directly engaged with Nature and the elements.

When they are free to become gatherers, makers and world creators in their own time and in their own ways.

When they play with others and make relationships.

When they can play alone, be solitary and private.

When they can become new selves through their play with others and in their own imaginings.

When they can reveal themselves, their joys, sufferings, and concerns without fear of ridicule and when mystery and imagination are not denied by fact.

The Vital Role of Play

Why is it so important that we give our children opportunity for free play?

How could sending my child to an enrichment activity possibly harm their development?

Joan Almon explores the rational behind the “play principle”…

“creative play is a central activity in the lives of healthy young children.
It helps children weave together all the elements of life as they experience it. It allows them to digest life and make it their own. It is an outlet for the fullness of their creativity, and it is an absolutely critical part of their childhood. With creative play, children blossom and flourish; without it, they suffer a serious decline.”

Read the full article in the Waldorf Library here >

Why Kids Don’t Play Anymore


The brand-new subdivisions of Toronto roll on and on into the cornfields, a new one every month. I drive by them all the time. This is where young families live. But the streets and sidewalks are eerily quiet. You hardly ever see a child. No kids riding bikes. No kids playing shinny. No kids running wild in packs until their moms call them in for supper. It’s as if the kids have vanished. Continue reading Why Kids Don’t Play Anymore

The Play Deficit

Children-playChildren today are cossetted and pressured in equal measure.
Without the freedom to play they will never grow up.


When I was a child in the 1950s, my friends and I had two educations. We had school (which was not the big deal it is today), and we also had what I call a hunter-gather education. We played in mixed-age neighbourhood groups almost every day after school, often until dark. We played all weekend and all summer long. We had time to explore in all sorts of ways, and also time to become bored and figure out how to overcome boredom, time to get into trouble and find our way out of it, time to daydream, time to immerse ourselves in hobbies, and time to read comics and whatever else we wanted to read rather than the books assigned to us. What I learnt in my hunter-gatherer education has been far more valuable to my adult life than what I learnt in school, and I think others in my age group would say the same if they took time to think about it. Continue reading The Play Deficit

The Slow Fix

Reposted from CBC

We live in a fast-forward world. We’re stressed out, maxed out and exhausted. Michael talks to Carl Honoré, author of the “The Slow Fix” about how to embrace our inner tortoise without rejecting our inner hare.

His first book, In Praise of Slow, galvanized international interest in the way we live. His next book, Under Pressure, critically examined how parents are micromanaging their children’s lives. Now with his latest book, The Slow Fix, Mr. Honoré shows how changing our neurotic relationship to time, can change our lives for the better.

honore-368x206This is the shortened version of a longer interview.

The full interview is found here:

In Praise of Slowness

Journalist Carl Honore believes the Western world’s emphasis on speed erodes health, productivity and quality of life. But there’s a backlash brewing, as everyday people start putting the brakes on their all-too-modern lives.

In his book In Praise of Slowness, Carl Honoré dissects our speed-obsessed society and celebrates those who have gotten in touch with their “inner tortoise.”

NOTE: at 10:40 he speaks directly to the benefits of slowing down for the benefit of our children.