Plenty of things change as we get older. Our taste in food, the way we think, and of course our physical ability – and that’s just the adults. And with such fast development in the childhood years, it’s understandable that the way children play goes through several phases as they grow older. However, play should also challenge them in different ways. Read on as we explore how play changes through the childhood years.
The first movements
Play and movement is important from day one for babies. It begins with reflexive movements, such as when babies jerk their arms and legs. Hardly an intense workout, but it’s the start of their slow journey towards controlled movement. As they develop, infants become more aware of their movements, and begin to work with their motor skills when they play:
· Gross motor skills involve large muscle groups like arms and legs
· Fine motor skills involve smaller muscle groups like the fingers and toes
Gross motor skills are essential in all the landmark moments for infants – sitting up, crawling and walking, while fine motor skills allow them to play with smaller objects, exploring new shapes, textures and colours.
Moving through childhood
As toddlers becomes children, their play becomes a lot more physical. They want to run, jump and even swing. There’s more to this that first meets the eye though. Physical activity is at the core of children’s social development. It’s how children meet new friends, and learn to cooperate and compete. With the right kind of physical play, young children can learn important behavioural skills like reciprocation, turn-taking and following rules, while also improving their physical fitness.
It’s not just mood swings and growth spurts – when children become teenagers, play is important in keeping them active. Whether it’s team sports or individual activities like yoga or climbing, it’s essential for teenagers to have the space and facilities to stay active. They may not refer to it as “play” any more, but this activity is also a great stress-reliever – and we all know how essential that is in the teenage years.
Looking forward, adolescent play lays the foundations for adulthood. It’s no secret that an inactive lifestyle is a factor in a wide range of health complications, so it really is essential for teenagers to make physical activity a part of their day to day life.
Providing the right space for play
Whether it’s sensory play for infants or sports courts for adolescents, it’s important that children have the right space to play throughout their childhood years. At Playcubed , we provide a wide range of play areas, active play facilities and sports surfaces across London and the South East.
Covering survey, design and installation, our comprehensive service makes it easy for you to get the perfect facilities for your school or public space. Get in touch today to discuss your needs with our team.
As much as children
might think otherwise, schools are more than just lessons, textbooks and
homework. Yes, while these are three of main reasons teachers lose sleep, there
are so many more. Another big task for schools is developing healthy habits for
their pupils. But is your school doing enough? This post explores the best ways
to encourage a healthy lifestyle.
Get it in early
So, why is it that schools need to instil healthy habits in children? Quite simply, the earlier children learn it, the more natural it becomes. Like languages, maths and… anything really – learning healthy habits at an early age is much easier than adopting them later in life. It makes it much simpler to carry these habits into adulthood.
Five a day – and more...
Top of the list when it comes to healthy habits is a well-balanced diet. It’s no secret that childhood obesity is on the rise, which is being carried into adulthood increasingly nowadays ( read more on that here ).
The solution? Teach children about a balanced diet as soon as possible – and put it into practice. That’s not just five fruit and vegetables a day, but ways to get learning about lean proteins and complex carbs – and how to get these into your diet.
We’re all guilty of pigging out from time to time, but it’s also useful to introduce children to eating in moderation. Children don’t have to have the sweet stuff locked away, they just need to know when and how often they should eat it. Like us, really… It’s also important to know when you’re full. Teaching children about these simple things stops them overeating, as well as steering them clear of the unhealthy boredom snacking habit.
In 2015, the Government found that 1 in 5 children were obese, with 1 in 3 obese or overweight. Yes – really! Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the last 30 years. What does that mean? Well, it spells an increased risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and breathing difficulties. That’s not mentioning the potential impact on children’s mental health and self consciousness.
It also means more unhealthy children growing into unhealthy adults, with the development of serious diseases more likely as time goes on. But what can schools do? A great deal, actually! Here are four simple steps your school can take to tackle childhood obesity.
1. Get out and play!
Exercise is essential for any person’s health – child or adult. Even if someone eats well or is the “ideal” weight, a lack of activity can have a negative impact on muscles, organs and joints. In addition to PE, which is required on the national curriculum, schools can encourage active play during break times too. Lucky for us, children love playing! They just need the right space and facilities to do so.
2. Promote cooperation and friendship
Getting children to play can be a problem if they feel isolated. Schools should encourage children to make strong friendships. Here are some ideas:
· Icebreaker activities to introduce children from day one.
· Group activities in lessons.
· Team games in PE lessons.
· Change around seating plans to get children talking to different classmates.
3. Food education
They say you are what you eat – and, to some extent, it’s true! Even the most active child will not be healthy if they aren’t eating the right food. As well as offering balanced meals and healthy snacks, schools should look to educate children about food so they make the right choices at home and in future.
Worried about squeezing it into the already-jammed timetable? Try incorporating it into other lessons, like maths, science and art.
4. Mental support
Being overweight can affect the mental wellbeing of children. But it can also work the other way . If a child doesn’t feel supported, they’re less likely to lead a healthy lifestyle. And where do kids look for support? Adults, of course. Make sure children are supported at school by offering them the chance to talk about any issues and reinforcing positive thinking.
Providing the means for a healthy lifestyle
You can’t force a healthy lifestyle on children, but at school you can give them the knowledge and means to pursue it themselves. At Playcubed , we provide tailored play areas and facilities to schools across Greater London. Covering consultation, design, presentation and installation, our service makes it easy for your school to get the perfect play areas and facilities. Get in touch today to discuss your requirements.
EduKent EXPO & Conference is Kent’s leading event for the promotion and development of effective school leadership, management, learning and teaching featuring a high-level conference, inspirational workshops and a comprehensive exhibition of leading suppliers of services to schools and academies.
In November 2016, the fifth EduKent EXPO & Conference brought together hundreds of education leaders from across Kent and neighbouring counties - to share best practice and new ideas on managing and developing education in the region.
Continuing to build upon previous successes, the 2017 event will take place on Wednesday 8th November at The Kent Event Centre, Kent Showground, Detling ( view on maps ).
This free-to-attend event is Kent’s largest exhibition and conference for the county’s Head Teachers, Finance Directors, Bursars, Business Managers, Governors, Local Authority education leaders, PTA’s, IT Managers and school leadership teams from the state, academy and private sectors.
Delegates benefit from a unique opportunity to meet key suppliers in the market and attend a wide range of free conference sessions - hearing directly from senior figures who set education policy and strategic direction across the national and local education agenda. High-quality content provides practical advice on how to achieve outstanding results through strong leadership, excellent teaching and effective management systems.
Breakfast, lunch, refreshments and parking are all free-of-charge for all delegates!
The place for quality education support services
EduKent has been developed by Kent County Council in response to the rapidly changing educational environment and is designed to meet the needs of schools and academies by providing education support services, all in one place. By building on the success of Kent Services for Schools and by combining such established services as Schools Personnel Service, EIS and Schools Financial Services with the newer service providers, EduKent offers high quality, competitively priced services delivered by experienced staff, to assist in improving outcomes for all pupils.
Come and see Playcubed at Stand 229
We will be exhibiting at Stand 229. Be sure to drop past to meet the team and discuss any outdoor developments at your school.
CLICK HERE to book your free place and make sure your school is represented.
Learning the senses is a key part of a child’s primary education. Ask most young children and they’ll be able to list sight, sound, smell, touch and taste (or close enough anyway). But what about learning through the senses? Sensory play engages children, helping them explore and discover the world. Read on to explore how sensory play helps children learn, in more ways than one.
Speak to most people about sensory play and they’ll assume you mean touching and feeling. They wouldn’t be wrong – touch is one of the senses, and is an essential part of sensory play. But it’s also important to engage children with sights, smells, sounds and even tastes. Colourful, aromatic plants, sensory panels and textured surfaces are just some of the ways to ensure children are using all of their senses.
Two types of motor skills
Running, walking and climbing help children improve their motor skills. Or, more specifically, they develop their gross motor skills, dealing with large muscle groups for dynamic activities. But what about their fine motor skills?
No, we don’t expect kids to fix a faulty gearbox. This applies to smaller muscle groups, essential for things like writing and shoe-tying. Yes – all the things you want children to master in their early years. Sensory play absorbs children with activities involving fine motor skills, exploring things like squeezing, pinching and lacing.
As any parent or teacher will know, language is essential to children’s development. It’s how they understand the world around them and express ideas and emotions. Can sensory play help? 100% yes! When you’re learning new words and ideas, the touch, sound and smell of objects can bring them to life.
Point at a picture of a tree and explain it to a child. They’ll probably learn it eventually. But when they can see it up close, feel the rough bark and smell the fresh leaves, it suddenly becomes more real, memorable and easier to understand.
How about concepts and comparisons? Try explaining smooth and rough objects to a child without letting them feel them and experience them. It’s almost impossible for them to understand. With sensory play providing a range of colours, textures and smells to children, this comes naturally.
Engaging children with sensory play areas
With clear benefits for children’s learning, sensory play facilities are a superb addition to any educational environment. If you want to add a versatile, engaging sensory play area to your school, Playcubed can help. We provide tailored facilities for sensory play to schools around London and the South East of England. Offering full consultation, planning and installation, we’re the perfect solution to all your sensory play needs. Get in touch today to discuss your project.
We’ve all heard the theory - children are able to learn faster than adults. But is that really the case? And if so, how come? Surely we adults, with all our qualifications and years of experience, are able to pick things up quicker than the youngsters.
Yes, children learn more quickly:
Many argue that children are the better learners. It is thought that children are less afraid to take risks, having less responsibilities and less vulnerability for mistakes. A child’s environment is a big motivational factor in their learning. They are at school studying many different subjects, playing different sports, and taking part in different extra-curricular activities. This child environment contrasts with adults who are usually focused on one subject area and are less open to different learning opportunities in their lives.
Some people believe that children are more creative, spontaneous and energetic than adults, making them better learners. Adults may be less inclined to be corrected and feel like they have learnt what they need to know in comparison to a developing child.
No, adults learn more quickly:
Other people believe that adults are better learners, as they can build on their prior knowledge and experiences of the world when learning.
Adults have also 'learned how to learn' and know what they enjoy. Enjoyment and having fun helps learning and therefore adults know better what they like.
Whilst many of the facts and figures learnt at school have either got pushed to the back of our brains or completely forgotten, we hope that the ability to learn remains. Children can’t possibly remember everything their teacher has told them. They should however, be able to ask questions, explore, investigate, question their thoughts, listen and think. These are the important skills that are learnt and will be vital skills used throughout life. Indeed, one of the main aims of Primary Education is to tutor children in 'how to learn'.
The simple answer is that yes there are some tasks that children can perform better than adults. For those of you who appreciate the longer scientific answer this is because in adults the prefrontal cortex of the brain, where working memory is stored, is more developed than in children.
The prefrontal cortex is defined as ‘the gray matter of the anterior part of the frontal lobe that is highly developed in humans and plays a role in the regulation of complex cognitive, emotional, and behavioral functioning’. There's a heap more information on the prefrontal cortex here .
A developed prefrontal cortex means that adults are hampered by a functional fixation, causing them to see a spade as a spade, i.e a tool for digging. Or let me put that another way for you teachers out there…an adult sees a pencil case or a school rucksack as exactly that. However the under-developed prefrontal cortex in a child allows children to be far more inventive than that, as their prefrontal cortex is not limiting their ability to be creative and flexible. In their minds, that pencil case or rucksack can be imagined as thousands of different objects. You’ll probably know this as ‘thinking outside of the box’. So this is why a child can see a broomstick as a javelin or the mattress as a trampoline.
As a result, children are often better than adults at solving tasks that require a creative solution, such as being set a challenge with limited equipment. Put another way, an adult’s brain is designed to perform, but a child’s brain is designed to learn. With that in mind it doesn’t take a child genius to work out that knowing that children’s brains operate in this way must have some useful benefits for a teacher.
Beyond the promotion of creativity, the under-developed prefrontal cortex allows children to learn social conventions at a fast rate. This is because at this stage of brain development a child sees the most prevalent behaviour as the appropriate way to behave, hence the reason why appropriate adult role models are so crucial to a child’s social development. Interestingly, this ability to quickly learn conventions also explains a child’s ability to learn languages faster than adults.
Another piece of useful information for teachers is that Attention-deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are both believed to be linked to the development of the prefrontal cortex, and therefore both affect a child’s ability to learn certain skills. Children with ADHD tend to exhibit a delay in the development of the prefrontal cortex, while the opposite is true of ASD children. In children with ASD this more developed prefrontal cortex is believed to be the primary cause for their difficulty in acquiring social conventions. Find out more about creating a play space for SEN students.
Whether you are a better learner as a child or adult may purely be an individual trait and depend on your environment, personality, motivation and life experience. So the final message for this piece is to say that we as teachers really need to let children do what they are naturally good at…being creative!