Tuesday, September 29, 2009

If one of my heroes is worried... we all need to worry.

Sir David Attenborough is one of my heroes.

After looking that the results of a survey done by BBC Wildlife Magazine, he has cause for concern. Children would rather see friends or play on their computers games than go for a walk or play outdoors.

Here is the article about the survey and how children have lost touch with the natural world. Attenborough alarmed as children are left flummoxed by test on the natural world.

What we need are some more videos like this one the BBC did last year. Penguins. That will get kids excited about the natural world.......... oh, and getting them outside as well........ You never know, penguins could be coming to a neighbourhood near you.

Video Games

Never thought I'd see the day when I posted an article about the positive benefits of video gaming.... but here is an interesting article, A playful route to learning, which also mentions the importance of play in our lives.

Here's a little part of it to wet your appetite.....

"There are misgivings to be resolved before society works out how games might contribute to learning, including issues around dysfunctionality and addiction. The core issues are deeper: about our failure to understand the real nature of the play impulse. Human beings are naturally playful. The problem begins when compartments are constructed for learning, growing and being. Rationalists consigned play to childhood, learning to adolescence, and being to maturity. An unholy alliance with puritanical religions ensured that play was stigmatised in learning, and by the advent of maturity, the adult had come to regard play as a guilty pleasure, one that could have no proper place in the moulding of the young."

Sunday, September 20, 2009

"The health of our children is negatively affected by......

the design of American communities." Having lived in both London and Los Angeles, I can see why the American Academy of Pediatrics came to that conclusion.

An article about the fact that the AAP have specifically linked children's physical inactivity with the design of the built environment is here, 'Redesign communities to help alleviate obesity' and was republished in the Landscape Architecture magazine this month, called 'Why our children should be able to walk to school'.

Not that I'm trying to drum up more work for myself and my peers but wouldn't one of the answers be....... more parks, more open space, more trees, more nature in general.......... and finally more common sense by policy makers, please.

Am I failing my children?

When I read this article, Are parents pushing their children too hard?, I was horrified. Have I been living in a bubble? When did this happen? Will I be failing my children if I don't go down this route? Will my children thank me or hate me for the choices I make for them? When did life get to be so hard.... for kids?

Read the article, and then check out my link to the Idle Parent and breathe out again........... all will be well with the world.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The peasants are revolting.....

And by peasants, I mean those little people called children who get about as many rights as the peasants did, way back when.

"Let us play and we'll learn better", this is what kids are saying in a new report from Play England. Smart move kids......

Now we are bound to take them seriously if they will actually learn by playing more..... Here's the link to the article.


Playday is a national campaign in the UK, celebrating the children's right to play. They published a report called Children's time to play: A Literature Review looking at the importance of free time and play and examining how children spend their time.

Not that I don't want you to check it out but here is their conclusion to the report. Hopefully it will wet your appetite rather make you than think you don't need to read it now....

"From the evidence we can conclude that children’s play is vital for their social and physical development and is a way they wish to spend their free time. Children associate free time with freedom, independence and choice; however, play of this nature is often limited. Ginsberg highlights that the combination of busy lifestyles and academic commitments has impinged on children’s free time, affecting their cognitive, physical, social and emotional stability. Play that is directed by adults rather than by children themselves does not require the same level of skills, initiative and decision-making, and so does not offer the same learning experience. That is not to say that adults cannot have a vital role in play. Their involvement in child-centred play can offer a unique bonding opportunity that allows adults to see the world through the eyes of a child (Ginsburg 2006). As Ginsberg notes, we must acknowledge the merits of academia in children’s lives and understand the health benefits of organised activities, but a balance must be stuck between this and more informal and unstructured play, where children are free to enjoy themselves and do as they wish without adult control."

Josie Gleave

Play England

June 2009

Sunday, September 6, 2009


I came across this website through TED and thought what they were doing was astonishing. It only reconfirmed my belief that children are amazing and we... adults... should leave them alone, to create, innovate and generally do things their own inimitable way.

Hole-in-the-Wall was set up to research and develop a methodology formerly called Minimally Invasive Education. A computer is literally put in a hole in the wall in the playground and by breaking the traditional confines of a school, they are employing a unique collaborative learning approach and encouraging children to explore, learn and just enjoy. What excited me the most were the reasons why they placed the computer outside.

"The playground setting offers a host of other advantages. Unconditional access to Learning Stations ensures that both children in-school and out-of-school can use them. Another advantage is that the unstructured nature of this setting also ensures that children themselves take ownership of the Learning Station by forming self-organized groups who learn on their own. Finally an unsupervised setting ensures that the entire process of learning is learner-centric and is driven by a child’s natural curiosity."

Check it out.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

It's about time.

While we all know the benefits of being in nature, having a study actually point out, in black and white, that nature is good for your children when included in the schoolyard and can make them healthier and smarter, will be a happy day. Now all we need to do is get rid of all this ridiculous testing.......

The wonderful people at the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory at the University of Illinois are currently working on a project called The Capacity to Learn. It will "study the effects of schoolyard nature on children's learning and academic achievement as reflected in standardized test scores. With this study, we hope to convincingly document whether children learn more in green school settings."