Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

October 2018

Nation's Pediatricians Emphasize Power of Play

By Dave Ramont

Many schools have had to reduce or do away with their extra-curricular sports programs due to budget cuts. But more and more schools have also reduced access to gym classes and recess. Research has shown that 30 percent of kindergarten children no longer have recess. Additionally, children's playtime overall decreased by 25 percent between 1981 and 1997. One national survey of nearly 9,000 families found that just over half of preschool kids went outside with a parent once a day to walk or play. And although television watching has been linked to greater risks of obesity and sedentary lifestyles, media research suggests that the typical preschooler watches 4.5 hours of television per day.

For these reasons, it seems even more important for schools and learning centers to take a bigger role in making sure that kids get some important playtime in addition to academics. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends play for children to "buffer toxic stress, build parental relationships and improve executive functioning." They've recently released their clinical report "The Power of Play: A Pediatric Role in Enhancing Development in Young Children."

The report includes new information concerning the links between play and learning, as research has provided many examples of the importance of play when it comes to healthy child development. Pediatrician Michael Yogman, M.D., is the lead author of the AAP report, and he recommends that doctors write a prescription for play, as it's fundamentally important for developing emotional, social, language and cognitive skills. He said that these skills are especially important in an economically competitive world that requires collaboration and innovation.

"The benefits of play cannot really be overstated in terms of mitigating stress, improving academic skills and helping to build the safe, stable and nurturing relationships that buffer against toxic stress and build social-emotional resilience," he explained.

In one study, 3- and 4-year-old children who were anxious about entering preschool were twice as relieved of their stress when allowed to play with peers or teachers for 15 minutes, as opposed to kids who listened to a teacher read a story. And preschool kids with disruptive behaviors were less disruptive and less stressed when teachers played regularly with them one-on-one throughout the year, compared with peers who merely had routine interactions, according to research.

The AAP report recommends that encouraging a child's natural urge to play can facilitate learning more effectively than other motivations such as test scores. They feel that unstructured play in schools should be promoted and protected because of its numerous benefits. Teachers should allow some room for playful learning by letting kids follow their own curiosity and take the lead, and recess and physical activity should be promoted every day.

And while schools and educators should advocate for more play time, the report also recommends that parents and pediatricians take a bigger role in encouraging playful learning. "Play is important both for children and their parents," Yogman said, "since sharing joyful moments together during play can only enhance their relationship."

Recent Rec Report Feature Stories

Step Into Swim Continues to Create New Swimmers - September 2018

Pickleball Benefits Older Adults - September 2018

NSPF Endorses MAHC Adoption - September 2018

Cities Spend More on Public Parks in 2018 - September 2018

Be Ready for Back-to-School Sports - August 2018

NRPA, Pool Safely Partner on Water & Recreation Safety - August 2018

States Make Progress Toward Active Transportation - August 2018

IHRSA Briefing Looks at Club Employees vs. Contractors - August 2018

ACSM & Wellcoaches Expand Offerings for Fitness Pros - July 2018

Grants Help Local Trail Projects - July 2018

Grant to Boost Meals & Nutrition for Kids - July 2018

Trust for Public Land Releases ParkServe Database - July 2018

CPSC Asks for Vigilance to Prevent Child Drowning - July 2018

TPL Earns NEA Grant to Explore Creative Placemaking - June 2018

High Visa Denial Rates Could Affect Pools - June 2018

Make a Splash Campaign Teaches Millions to Swim - June 2018

Communities Can Earn Grants for Dog Park Development - June 2018

National Golf Day Celebrates Green Practices - May 2018

YMCA Recognized for Diversity - May 2018

Americans Support Pollinator Health, And Parks Can Help - May 2018

How to Encourage Play—Everywhere! - April 2018

Partnership, Grants to Boost Mountain Bike Trail Development - April 2018

Parks & Recreation Supports More Than 1.1 Million Jobs - April 2018

Club Pilates Grows With New Training Facility - April 2018

IHRSA Sees Positive Growth for Fitness Pros - April 2018

Denver's Freedom Park Wins Grant for Public Art - March 2018

NSPF, Counsilman-Hunsaker Partner to Create App for Aquatic Facility Managers - March 2018

More Than 330 Million Recreation Visits Recorded in 2017 for National Park System - March 2018

Study Shows Economic Benefits of the Great Outdoors - March 2018

Parks for Inclusion Initiative Aims to Expand Reach to All Americans - February 2018

SHAPE America, NFL & Partners Collaborate on Training for Health & P.E. Educators - February 2018

CPSC Offers $1.1 Million in Pool Safely Grants - February 2018

Bipartisan PHIT Act Could Boost America's Wellness - February 2018

China Plant Shutdowns May Affect Pool Operations & Budgets - January 2018

Arlington County 'Pulls Together' to Remove Invasive Plants - January 2018

Youth Sports Participation Increases for Underserved Kids - January 2018

Study: Physical Activity Boosts Learning Time - January 2018

Preventing Germs in Gyms: What Works? - December 2017

Study: Laws Reduce Recurrent Concussions - December 2017

Grants Awarded for Urban Water & Wildlife Habitat Restoration - December 2017

APSP University Launches New Certification Course - November 2017

New Series Aims to Empower Students With Healthy Habits - November 2017

US Club Soccer Puts Focus on Player Safety - November 2017

New Initiative Aims to Ensure All Have Access to Parks & Rec - November 2017

L.A. Parks Earn Mostly Positive Report Card - October 2017

Health Club Memberships Up, Led by Youth & Older Adults - October 2017

Dallas Park Recognized With ASLA Award - October 2017

Adult Obesity Rates Leveling Off - October 2017

Improving Kids' Wellness—In the Classroom - October 2017