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The importance of play

What do children love to do the most? Play! They especially love being on the playground before and after school and at recess time. It’s their favorite time of day, but it’s also a critical opportunity to engage in physical and social activity.
So it is disturbing for many reasons that some children do not, or cannot, take part in common playground activities.

Withdrawal or exclusion from play can lead to social isolation, unhealthy choices, and low self-esteem. We know that children spend less and less time in physical activity at home, where the TV and the computer may be more attractive leisure options. This means they may go to school without the skills or practice they need in order to be active participants. But social and physical participation on the playground is important for them—to ensure healthy habits, to reduce the likelihood of childhood obesity, and to increase the likelihood that they will make friends and become part of the active social groups that form in unstructured free time. Being physically active starts early in life, and having the skills required for physical activity is critical.

This is an excerpt from Let’s Play: Promoting Active Playgrounds by Jane Watkinson.

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