If you Google, “Summer break with children,” you get two types of search results — a variety of activity lists or articles about the evils of summer’s off. Turns out they call it “summer fade,” which is a one month backslide in learning coupled with an increase in Body Mass Index (BMI) for kids.
Many parents counter these issues with a rigorous schedule of summer camps, sport practice and tutoring. While watching television all day with a box of pop tarts is obviously not good, there are some other options beyond a highly structured and scheduled summer.
When planning, or not planning your child’s summer, consider the scientifically proven benefits of boredom, free play and time in nature. These research studies about children and learning support the idea of a summer slowdown.
In a recent BBC news article, Children should be allowed to get bored, Dr Teresa Belton said, “Cultural expectations that children should be constantly active could hamper the development of their imagination.”
Now couple that reality with studies connecting time in nature with increased learning and emotional capabilities. The positive results of being outdoors for children are vast as seen in this PDF of a decade of Scientific Studies on this topic. Some highlights include:
- “When children engage in authentic play in nature-based outdoor spaces, they develop skills in a variety of domains simultaneously.” – Miller, D.L., Tichota, K,.White, J. (2009).
- “Sullivan has revealed that the symptoms of children with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) are relieved after contact with nature. The greener the setting, the more the relief.” – Taylor, A., Kuo, F. & Sullivan, W. (2001).
- “Children who regularly have positive personal experiences with the natural world show more advanced motor fitness, including coordination, balance and agility.” – Fjortoft, Ingunn (2001).
In addition to the learning benefits to boredom and time in nature, there is also the issue of free play. This article from Parenting Science explores over a decade of studies about the benefits of unstructured play time. The author is careful to note that free play does not mean physcial education classes or sports. Free play is just that. Unstructured play time, which is proven to help math skills, language development, and creative problem solving.
- “Play and exploration trigger the secretion of BDNF, a substance essential for the growth of brain cells.”
- “Psychologist Edward Fisher analyzed 46 published studies of the cognitive benefits of play (Fisher 1999). He found that “sociodramatic play”—what happens when kids pretend together—’results in improved performances in both cognitive-linguistic and social affective domains.'”
And finally, before you schedule a summer of busy stimulation, consider this article and advice from Simplicity Parenting writer Kim John Payne. He says:
“[When Google is hiring they say] ‘we’re less concerned about grades and transcripts and more interested in how you think.'”
If we rewind to a childhood that makes an adult like that, what do we see? Is it racing around from one prep course to another? From soccer to piano to Mandarin? A childhood on the clock and filling up the gaps with zoning on the iPad and obsessing about making more friends on Facebook?
I don’t think so.
When we really look at what happens for a kid when they slow down, tune in to themselves, take space and get busy in serious play, we can see that what they are learning is how to be create a kind of inner structure that will serve them (and us) well in the world ahead. … Play provides a deep and wide-reaching domain for kids to experiment with the real work of the real world.”
by Hazel Emery M.Ed.
Spring Garden Waldorf School was fortunate to be gifted an original P.R. Miller sculpture for our grounds. Miller — a.k.a. “The Grizzled Wizard of Waste Not, Want Not” — is renowned for creating unique works of art using recycled and reclaimed materials. Miller is the artist-in-residence for Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens, and his installations can be seen throughout Akron.
P. R. Miller has had a long relationship with Spring Garden. His children Sarah and Alex, as well as his grandson Graye, are SGWS alumni, and he has continued to support our school in many ways since they graduated. Most notably, he visited the school in 2008 and enlisted the help of students and their parents to create bugs and butterflies from recycled plastic materials for his installation at Stan Hywet. We are grateful for his continuing involvement with Spring Garden Waldorf School and for this amazing, unique sculpture that will grace our grounds for years to come.
Join us at school on Saturday, May 30th, from 10am – 2pm for Roof Art Community Day. This fun and festive community painting party will let families create an art piece to be included inside our new roof. Plywood can be purchased at $100/sheet and the art will be used to line the inside walls and ceilings of our new roof. Healthy snacks will be provided for all!
We will also be placing a time capsule inside the new roof and each plywood purchase entitles you to place a small, meaningful item inside. So come, have fun and support the new roof project with your donation and your art!
Fill out the purchase form in your mailbox. Or, you can purchase the sheet online, here, at PayPal:
“Reflections of a Waldorf Father” will be a 16″ x 20″ mirrored wall hanging consisting of various sizes of wooden blocks hand-stained by all fathers who are willing to participate. We have over 100 blocks to be stained. You can pick up as many as you are able to complete, free of charge, at the school store. Use any shade(s) of stain you have in your home (the more variety, the better), and return the dried pieces as soon as possible, but no later than Thursday, March 26th.
If you have any questions, please email Debi Huselton.