Monday, July 27, 2015

Free play and the importance of the environment on development.

Here is an outstanding selection of articles about the importance of play and learning from Nature. By examining the effect the environment has on children’s ability to play, author Barbara Kiser, demonstrates how, “…infant scientists and young explorers thrive in the open air and through free play…”  

Accompanying this article is industrial and playground designer, Günter Beltzig’s analysis on the need to rethink playground design so that it takes into account the depth of research that already exists regarding free play and learning. 

“There is still no academic underpinning to playground-design theory, even though there is for graveyard design. The body of knowledge on children's behavior gathered by educationalists, psychologists and neuroscientists has not permeated playground design, so most such spaces fail to inspire play and the physical, emotional, social and psychological development that it engenders.” -Günter Beltzig

Read the full articles at
Immersive, dynamic and multidimensional, nature can stimulate and engage the whole child.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Free play beyond the first 4 years

In the cover story for Wired magazine naming the next Steve Jobs, Joshua Davis, the author, cites the importance of exploring and problem solving independently. Many parents encourage their children when they are very young to play and freely explore the world around them, but once they start elementary school the separation begins. It is as if the age of free play and discovery ends with a child's first steps and ability to use the bathroom. Playing and exploring take a back seat to "learning" and "studying." This Wired article underlines how important exploration is as children grow older and older. Given a computer and little instruction, a group of children were able to self organize and in a structured manner learn how to use it. In this way they let their formal education be a supplement to their natural creativity and need to explore. This is not to say that running around in a field or trips to the zoo should replace biology classes or that teachers should be replaced with iPads and computers. The key is finding a way to help young students use both the tools they are given through traditional methods of learning such as memorization and repetition, and their own creativity. For teachers the importance is in being able to recognize and foster a child's creativity by having the patience and restraint to know when to step back and let them become their own teacher.
-Magdalena S. Palencia

How a Radical New Teaching Method Could Unleash a Generation of Geniuses

"Over the next 75 days, the children worked out how to use the computer and began to learn. When Mitra returned, he administered a written test on molecular biology. The kids answered about one in four questions correctly. After another 75 days, with the encouragement of a friendly local, they were getting every other question right. “If you put a computer in front of children and remove all other adult restrictions, they will self-organize around it,” Mitra says, “like bees around a flower.”"

Read the rest of this incredible article at