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Play in the Real World

Beetle
  Play

 

Most parents desire the best education for their children, but in reaching for that many of us over-schedule our kids, leaving them little time for play or outdoor recreation outside of a formal athletic environment. And when kids do have downtime,
all too often it’s spent plugged into a device.

For the first time in history, most of the world’s population now lives in an urban area. Researchers have been examining this, and the outcome is disheartening. Simply put, our brains suffer if we don’t get enough nature.

Hospital patients have been proven to heal more quickly if they have a tree outside their window, or if they spend time in a garden. Likewise, an important part of a quality education for a child is cradled in time enjoyed out of doors. Ironically children who spend more time playing outdoors show greater creativity and imagination than those who live plugged in to a creative, imaginary world.

 

Memories

An important facet of outdoor play is the creation of long-lasting memories. These are cherished and passed down as a heritage from generation to generation. Would you prefer to tell your grandchild about the first treehouse you built, or your best Wii score? Did your father tell you about his favorite fishing hole or his favorite cell phone? Heritage is
very often built upon outdoor childhood memories, and we can’t afford to lose that trend.

The most important gifts are invariably the least expensive, and introducing a child to exploration of
the natural world could be one of the best you ever give. Hidden Corner is a program that incorporates environmental education and outdoor recreation,
but in painting the big picture this includes something as simple as time spent in your yard, in the park, or in the container garden of an apartment complex.

 

Play

While Hidden Corner offers an organized range of activities, you will notice that many of the trail guides end with these words, “Allow time for unstructured play.” Structure has its place, but it cannot be at the cost of all free and spontaneous play. None of the Hidden Corner trails or lessons would achieve their objective if kids lacked time to unwind and run free.

It’s the time spent playing in the creek at the end of
a hike that makes them want to come back again. Goofing around on the beach in the evening is
made possible by a kayak trip, and they will
realize this as the evening comes to a close.

Very often it’s during this that leadership and conflict resolution skills are developed. Play allows the brain time to process the day’s information, and most importantly it’s a time when the child develops habits of the mind, heart, and soul – thinking, creativity, loving, and learning.