Play is an Essential Need
In the current crisis there is a large portion of articles and sites giving access to home-school options, schedules, and they are fabulous and many (overwhelming). The education system here has already foregone testing this year knowing we will not be returning to school and that different families have a different access and availability to online learning. The County of Education has made sure to continue food services, hand out packets of homework and even psychological support (amazing!).
Teachers, wow, got to love the teachers because within one weeks notice they completely changed everything they know and love to accommodate this crisis and their students. They individually have offered to talk to my child, to support them and to accommodate specific family situations! (I.e. for both parents needing to work, single children who are left alone to entertain themselves during the day and take on a role that was never expected).
I hope more than ever our teachers are recognized for the hard work they do, the importance of their job and the care and support that so many offer.
I find it odd though, through this time period there is almost a greater stress on academics. Our kids see a list of assignments, schedule their time to complete assignments, challenges of self learning and this whole crisis on top of it, with their existential thoughts and questions. It's a lot and we have to recognize that. It's hard for us who know how to compartmentalize anxiety and put things in proportion with all the unknowns and yet continue to function. What exactly are we expecting of the kids?
What is an essential need? Work, food shopping, caring for others and exercise. How do kids exercise? How do kids figure out tough situations?
Play is an essential activity. “It is fundamental to children’s well-being, resilience, and development; and it is mostly how they exercise. In their play, children take aspects of their everyday life and turn them upside down to create new worlds that are less boring (being isolated indoors) or less scary (the fear and uncertainty of the virus). This is more than indulgence; it is the basis of well-being and resilience” Play allows children to cope with what life throws at them.
The NHS recommends that all children get at least an hour of physical activity daily, varied in form and intensity; and 180 minutes for preschoolers during this time. We are aware of its importance for young people’s mental health during the outbreak (everyone for that matter). How do we plan time outside safely, without playgrounds, sufficient bike lanes, paths and parks being closed? ‘Plan time outside if you can do so safely’. And if you can't? Because you live in an apartment complex, or you have no sidewalks outside your house, or the streets are too busy or the cars are driving to fast, then what?
I, as well as the authors of this article suggest we re-frame how outdoor space is used. Honestly this has been a plan of Play Adventures down the road but at a time like this maybe it should be at the forefront of our initiatives. Creating a safe playful city!
Dr. Wendy Russel and Prof. Alison Stenning suggest:
“We recognize the very real need to maintain physical distancing and to stay at home in order to fight COVID-19 successfully, and the need for consistent public guidance on these key requirements. Nevertheless, there are potential measures to ensure safe space for children to play outside, with the attendant benefits to their well-being and resilience – and that of their families and communities – while better enabling physical distancing to be observed. Such possible measures include:
Enforcement of 20mph limits and reduction to 20mph on urban streets
Temporary introduction of 10mph limits on residential side roads
Temporary closure of some streets to through traffic, with road signs and other filters
Temporary widening of pavement space to create more space for pedestrians; and narrow and slow the flow of motor traffic
Priority to non-motor vehicle road users on all but main roads
A mix of these measures, as appropriate to different jurisdictions, contexts and locations, may have the potential to make the crisis less damaging to children, more bearable for families – and to increase the resilience of communities to a sustained lockdown”.
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