Norway has the highest literacy rate in the world, and 90% of Norwegians speak a second language (primarily English). And yet, Norwegian children don’t start formal education until they are over the age of 7. Instead, they spend their pre-school and kindergarten years engaging in active play. Norway recognizes that social and emotional health and physical wellbeing is essential to child development; including their academic achievement.
Here at the Club we recognise this too, and it is why we have decided that the Al Tahoe playground can’t wait any longer. Even if the School District is able to successfully pass a facility and maintenance bond in the future, it will come too late for the children that need a fun and functional playground right now.
Play improves the cognitive, physical, social and emotional wellbeing of children. Through active play, children learn about the world and themselves. They also learn vital skills that they need for study, work and relationships, such as:
- peer interaction
- social skills
- coping with challenging situations
- reaching outside of comfort zones
Physically it helps with fitness, agility, stamina, coordination and balance. All skills that you need to complete everyday tasks such as driving a car.
Children who engage in regular active play have been shown to have better concentration in the classroom, better coping skills and improved emotional regulation. Making them more able to learn and retain information.
Active play is different from structured play in that it is led by the child, or group of children, and not an adult or instructor. It incorporates both mental and physical components, and often has a high degree of social interaction. The desire for active play is extremely high in children, as shown by their ability to make a game out of nothing; but their play is significantly enhanced when they have access to play structures and areas that promote collaboration, imagination and physicality.
The design for the new community playground at Al Tahoe incorporates all these features, with new and more accessible swings, climbing obstacles, areas for collaborative games, an outdoor classroom area and a design that reflects both our natural environment and sparks imagination. It will also have elements that are attractive to our teen population, where play is superseded by sports and opportunities for social connections.
And, as safety is our number one priority, it will be a huge relief to Club staff to have a playground that is safe, free of hazards, and can be enjoyed by all children in the Club and our community.
For more information on our Let the Kids Play campaign, please visit bgclt.org.