from: Hollyburn Elementary School Valerie Brady
Playground interactions are the building blocks of rich childhood memories. Playing freely on a playground with other children is more than just fun and games. It is a way for children to master social skills and learn about themselves and the world around them.
The benefits of children’s play and playgrounds is well documented. The social benefits of play are outlined clearly in an online resource, Voice of Play. Following is an excerpt:
There is much more to playground interactions than meets the eye. Research has shown that the playground is a complex social network while kids learn valuable lessons about group interaction and social norms while gaining important relationship building skills.
Kids have many opportunities to move in and out of group play while on playgrounds. Solitary play helps kids socially, as it promotes creativity and alleviates boredom when children devise their own entertainment. While playing alone, kids can also learn social cues by observing group interactions without being a part of them.
When playing in groups, kids learn social roles and cultural rules, develop appropriate cooperation skills, and learn a shared system of symbols, including verbal and body language. When children develop and test relationships, they learn self-control, compromise and negotiation skills. Kids also learn survival skills, independence and acceptable group activities to build on as they grow up.
The development of social skills plays an important role in a child’s maturation process. The valuable lessons children learn on the playground will provide a foundation to grow into socially-adjusted, well-adapted adults.
Children are not born with the social skills needed to interact with other children. It is through watching their parents and others that children learn etiquette and social skills. Lessons learned on the playground provide the building blocks for social and emotional development. Happiness on the playground definitely correlates to success in the classroom and beyond.