Welcome to a collection of thoughts, questions and interesting links relating to giftedness ..............
You may also like to check out my website where you will find more information for children, parents and teachers.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Dangers Indoors - or too much cotton wool....

In 2008 when I visited a number of schools for gifted kids in the USA, I was surprised to find that several schools had an area of forest within their grounds as part of their play area. The children were able to build cubbies and in situ art works and to play here during breaks without the intense supervision that is routinely part of Australian school play areas.

Playgrounds or for that matter outdoor play ‘is not what it used to be’. No doubt the world has changed and bad things do happen, but a lot of opportunities for experimenting, problem solving and learning have also been lost.

What has reduced our kid’s time playing freely outdoors? Fear of accidents has tidied up our playgrounds, removing anything hat might be a potential risk, while removing opportunities for learning, problem solving (both physical and social) and wrapping our children in cotton wool. Robert Bateman, a Canadia naturalist and artist spoke at the World Gifted Conference in Vancouver in August, about the need to reconnect kids with nature. While there are real dangers that didn’t exist n the past, he believes our kids are not playing outside due to misplaced fear. Kids should play outside, they should play in groups ideally, not just for safety but for the social interaction it provides as well.

He also questioned why outdoor play these days needed to always be supervised? Is it perhaps that we feel kids can’t learn things unless we set up an environment to ‘teach’ them?

He proposed the dangers indoors were greater these days than those outdoors with unsupervised access to the internet, the frequency of TV violence and potential for cyber bullying meaning that the need for supervision indoors was much greater.

Surplus safety is cutting our kids off from nature. An Auastralian study showed  it is also impacting on the phsyical and mental health of our children. An alarming snippet also appeared in a newsletter from Free Spirit Press reporting on the alarming number of US preschool aged children who lack daily access to outdoor play. And that children in the 8 – 11 age bracket can more readily identify fictional characters than real living things such as trees and birds. While the situation may be a little different in most of Australia, it is a sobering thought.

Playing outside has health, mental health and intellectual benefits. ‘Surplus safety’ increases the risk of illness, leads to reduced resilience, greater difficulty with social problem solving and in the long term, increases the risk of leading a sedentary lifestyle.

If you would like to read more about the value of playing outdoors, see if you can get hold of a copy of The Last Child in the Woods (read an excerpt). Or have a look at No Child Left Inside. Or check out the Nature Rocks website

And perhaps consider attending the KidSafe conference in April 2010  (to be held at UWA)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

It has been an extremely busy term and although I had a number of posts partially completed, I have battled to find time to get them tidied up and posted here. Hopefully with the holiday program almost finalised and the end of the school year in sight, I will get a few more things up posted. And perhaps even some holiday reading suggestions.

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