Thursday, July 29, 2010

What and why: Active Play

What is active play?

Active play is physical activity with regular bursts of a moderate to vigorous pace, such as crawling, jumping, or running. Active play should raise children’s heart rate and make them ‘huff and puff’. Active play can occur:
  • Indoors or outdoors
  • Alone or with friends and family
  • In structured settings, such as swimming lessons or sport
  • In unstructured settings, such as backyards or parks.
A time for active play, everyday!
It is crucial for all children to be active for at least 60 minutes everyday. This time can be built up throughout the day, and includes finding time for outdoor play. Outdoor active play gives children more freedom to:
  • Use large and small muscle groups
  • Learn how their body moves
  • Explore nature and make noise
  • Move in a range of ways, directions, and paces
  • Practice skills, such as skipping, hopping, or climbing.
As children grow, the time and range of chances to be active should increase. This may include slowly increasing walking and/or running distances, and building more play skills such as catching, dancing, or swimming.
The unseen riches of active play

An important part of growth is giving children the chance to be active whenever possible. Active play therefore does not always have to be organised and have set time limits, equipment, or instructions. Allowing children to ‘make up’ their own play lets them try new things, learn from their mistakes, and above all enjoy being active all whilst moving at their own pace. Active play does not just fill children’s time. It is through play that children of all ages form lifelong skills, such as:
  • Decision making and problem solving skills
  • Resilience
  • Self-belief and self-confidence
  • Independence
  • Creativity and imagination
  • Skills in dealing with change and the mindset to ‘keep going’.
Just as important is children’s ability to express feelings, laugh, have fun, and mix with other people. This helps to develop:
  • Communication and social skills
  • A sense of belonging
  • An understanding of social rules
  • Friendships
  • A sense of ‘give and take’
  • Patience
  • Team work skills
  • An understanding of children, such as those with disabilities or from different cultures.
  • Make active play part of your child’s daily routine
  • Your child needs at least 60 minutes of active play each day
  • Play outdoors as often as possible
  • Unstructured play lets your child move at their pace
  • Allow your child to ‘have a go’, explore and try new things
  • Active play is vital for your child’s overall social and personal growth
  • Provide praise and helpful hints
  • As a parent or carer, be active in your own life.

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