PLAY... Just Do It

Posted by: Lisa Guerrero, Director of Youth & Camping Services on Tuesday, April 30, 2013 at 2:00:00 pm

It is almost that time of year, swimsuits and sunscreen, wet towels, and lots of laughter. Yes, I am talking about SUMMER. I know a thing or two about summer, I have directed the JCC Summer Camp programs for the past six summers and it is the best time of year.

Summer is a time to be a child and to play. Most people know the importance of play for young children; however, we often forget the importance of play for older children. Play is important for elementary and middle schoolers too. Play is a child’s job; through play children learn rules, negation techniques, order, consequences and many other invaluable skills.

I was recently reading an article by Alex Spiegel called  “Old Fashioned Play builds Serious Skills” in which Mr. Spiegel discusses the importance of old fashioned play without a lot of toys. The article touches on the connection of play to the development of “executive functions;” skills such as planning, problem solving and reasoning.  These “executive functions” are traits of CEO’s, doctors, lawyers and other successful leaders. It reminded me of camp and our philosophy of play.

JCC Camp staff encourage children to play, especially outdoors. Check out this quote I found in an article linking the connection of physical play (on monkey bars and climbers) and school success. “Climbing, hanging, swinging and any other high-energy activities that build strength in his upper body and core muscles are vital precursors to fine motor skills. Twisting, turning, dangling and swinging helps develop the flexibility and agility necessary for rotating the shoulders, elbows, wrists and fingers. Pushing, pulling, tugging and lifting himself up builds strength while developing an intuitive understanding of simple physics such as weight, pressure, and resistance.” Feel free to read the entire article by clicking here.  

So this summer get outdoors and play with your children! Not only will you be building memories but you will be building skills for your child’s future – and if it’s good for children, it’s got to be good for adults too. Need ideas for fun playful activities? Check out my camp board on the JCC Pinterest page (link) for some new ideas!


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