When I was in school, all I wanted to do was go outside and play. I wanted to run around, climb trees and see how high I could swing on the swing set. I would spend hours gazing out the window of my classroom just counting down the hours and minutes until I could go outside again and play. So when I read about a completely outdoor school in Tokyo Japan, my inner child was delighted and totally jealous.
This school is unlike any other; it has trees growing through the building, there are no structured classrooms, and there’s a rooftop that kids can play on! The entire school functions primarily on the concept that play is a valuable education tool. By actively playing, kids learn how to work together, problem solve, and communicate.
Play is incredibly important to a child’s development. Studies have shown that playing helps children develop cognitive processes, work through emotions, build their imaginations, as well as promoting social skills, and numerous other benefits. Playing allows your kid to experiment and try new things. Allowing your child the freedom to play and explore further enhances their curiosity and yearning to learn, and encouraging them to explore their questions and curiosities helps them establish an invaluable sense of confidence when it comes to learning.
While we don’t have outdoor-based schools at our disposal here in the US, there are many ways to get your kids outside, playing and learning. In support of this ever-growing movement, the Toy Industry Association has launched the Genius of Play campaign. Here you can learn about the specific developmental processes your child will experience while playing, read expert advice on why play is essential and find some of the best toys for any age group!
No matter what activity you choose, giving kids the independence and freedom to get outside and explore will help them grow right before your eyes. You might not be able to send your child to an outdoor-based school, but you can still give them the same chance to learn and grow!
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