Child development and playgrounds
Once limited to major world cities, todays interest in playgrounds has no precedent. As a product of the Industrial Revolution, the playground and relaxation movement of the early 1900s was largely urban based, but the current movement is nationwide and includes urban and rural areas, public parks, squares, public and private schools, child development centers, backyards, and fast food restaurants. Increased interest has also expanded opportunities in indoor pay-for-play centers, theme parks, zoos, and childrens museums. The development of national safety guidelines and standards (American Society for Testing and Materials,
Artificial Grass, 1993, 1995; Consumer Product Safety Commission, 1981, 1991, 1994), began during the mid-1970s; the standards are now influencingindeed directingthought and action in playground planning, development and use.
Although attention to playground safety is long overdue, the uninformed and overzealous application of safety standards may be as harmful as inattention to safety. Too often developmentally inappropriate playgrounds, paranoia about childrens safety, injury litigation, and physical destruction of playgrounds can be the result. The very welcome interest in playground safety can be tempered and illuminated with a focus on the child.
The importance of play in childhood development is widely misunderstood among the general population. Most adults view play as frivolous and unimportant. Fortunately for children, a growing number of sponsors are developing state-of-the-art play environments that challenge creativity while remaining relatively safe. We can plan innovative, developmentally appropriate playgrounds by examining the importance of play in child development, the influences of cultural change on childrens play and child development and age influences.
Importance of Play in Child Development
Perhaps the most pressing need in planning play environments is understanding the nature of play and its importance in childrens cognitive, social, language, and motor development. There is a rapidly growing body of evidence that play is centralindeed criticalto childhood development. Biologists and psychologists agree that play influences development; here is what they have to say. Research on play by biologists, psychiatrists, primatologists, psychologists, psychobiologists, evolutionary biologists, educators, and anthropologists, conclude that play isnt just fun. Young mammals cant do without it (Brownlee, 1997). For a variety of species, including humans, play is nearly as important as food and sleep. Through play, particularly make-believe or imaginative play, children gain emotional and mental mastery, and lay the groundwork for creative thinking. Play is serious business.
Play promotes cognitive development (Bruner, Jolly and Sylva, 1976; Smith, 1982). Play leads to discovery, reasoning, manipulative skills, divergent production and improves problem solving (Dansky, 1980; Sylva, 1977). All sorts of learning, about information, about people (including self), and about customs, are embedded in play (Yeatman and Reifel, 1992). Biologists who study play conclude that play is a vital activity that helps the brains of young animals develop, and through play children practice many of the skills they will need as adults. Further, the intense sensory and physical stimulation that comes with playing is critical to the growth of cerebellar synapses..(Angier, 1992). This is supported by brain scans of Romanian orphans which show that deprivation of play and human interaction result in biological regression of brain development (ABC-TV January 16, 1997). The experiences of childhood, especially play, help form the brains circuits. If neurons are not used they may die (Begley, 1996).
Zap: neurons in the brains amygdala send pulses of electricity through the circuits that control emotion. You hold him (infant) on your lap and talkand neurons from his ears start hardwiring connections to the auditory cortex. And you thought you were just playing with your kid (Begley, 1996).
Play promotes social development (Shure, 1981; Ladd and Mize, 1983) and motor development (Gabbard, 1979; Myers, 1985). Play provides opportunities to learn social roles and rules as well as a socially shared system of symbols, including language (Vygotsky, 1962, 1978; Yeatman and Reifel, 1992). Not only is play associated with the development of specific motor skills but biologists conclude that the vigorous movements of play help in the maturation of muscle tissue (Angier, 1992).
Play promotes physical fitness and health. Sedentary lifestyles and junk foodcoupled with reduction of physical education, play and workare resulting in a nation of flabby, short-winded kids with elevated cholesterol and blood pressure levels and declining strength and heart-lung endurance (Deitz and Gortmaker, 1985; Winston, 1984; Ross and Gilbert, 1985; Javernick, 1988; Dennis: et al., 1988).
Play is therapeutic. The therapeutic benefits of play are pronounced during play, especially make believe or symbolic play. The young childs play is equivalent to the adults language in expressing self and resolving conflicts (Axline, 1962; Landreth, 1995). A growing body of research, reviewed by Landreth (1995) concludes that playing helps children to resolve conflicts resulting from child abuse, family disruptions and other trauma.
Toys And Child Development – A Wonderful Combination For Raising A Child
Child Development is important when you are raising your child. As a parent, you feel the need to supply your child or children with toys to help them learn while they are playing. You may also find that playing games and playing with toys along with your child is a good way to foster child development. Child Development is characterized as helping your child grow and develop in a timely manner. A lot of this development comes naturally but you can enhance it by giving your child opportunities, attention and time.
The best way to ensure that Child Development reaching its full potential is to provide toys geared for educational purposes. This could be as simple as blocks that have different shapes and colors to more complex toys that have some problem solving attached. You can even take the old standby toys and enhance their learning potential too. Imaginary toys, classic toys, crafts, puzzles, outdoor toys and blocks are all wonderful toys to help your child learn how to think, manipulate and develop muscles, and have fun. Give your child a chance to learn with toys and not only will your child develop normally, they may even surprise you in some areas.
Many toys can help with child development. There are videos designed for interaction with your child and some videos are great. It is more beneficial, though, to get your child out from in front of the televsiion and get their minds activiely involved in what they are doing. And, yes, toys provide that atmosphere. You cant see it happening, but it is. It is important when fostering Child Development to make provide age appropriate toys. They will find more interest in them and you can even go a step above what the toy suggests. You will want to continue updating the toys for child development, as your child grows older but you will find that the most learning that occurs through play is done before school even starts.
Inevitably your child will develop. They will learn how to eat, sleep and function to get basic needs met. Their minds and body are made that way. Their minds are also made to go further and they are open for learning when they are so young. Think of how a 3 and 4 year old will ask you a hundred times a day the question why?. Take that intuitive desire to learn and give them toys that will enhance their development.