This week I began my forums with the Primary children, where they have an opportunity to discuss their play, playground equipment and their desires for the design of their playground. I want to thank the Junee children for all that they taught me during this session. I went in with preconceived notions that the children quickly proved wrong. I thought that the children would come up with many fanciful plans and that I would need to spend time explaining to them some of the practicalities to keep in mind when designing a playground. Boy was I wrong! I was humbled by their mature contribution and learned again from this experience never to underestimate our children!
Here is what they told me. They love to just run on the grass, just for the sake of running as well as to play running games, such as tips. They love to play ball games, such as soccer, basketball and handball. They love climbing and swinging. To a lesser extent, they like playing pretend. More than any other piece of equipment, they want a climbing frame, followed by monkey bars. They want places to hide in play, such as mounds and a cubby house (they did suggest that the cubby house be a Star Wars Death Star and gave some suggestions on how to build it).
All of the above told me something so important; it told me that children have an inner drive towards movement; that they are compelled to run, to climb and to swing (and that they love Star Wars). They need it every day. Montessori discussed this, neuroscience confirms it and the children themselves reminded me of it this week. As parents, it is good to keep this in mind – our children need outdoor movement – and lots of it. Over the past century the natural physical movement in our day to day life has diminished. We drive everywhere and sit at desks or lie on the couch with screens. We no longer walk long distances, nor ride our bikes. We do not carry buckets of water from the well, harvest our fields or scrub our clothes by hand. But as our children are reminding us, they need physical movement. They need it daily. I encourage you to look at your weekends and plan time for your child to have access to physical movement.