Last time I talked about big body play and how it helps children exercise their bodies and social-emotional skills. Children are also exercising their brains as they use outdoor big body play to interact with the world around them and learn about themselves. Just as in inside play with small manipulatives like blocks, crayons, scissors, etc., outdoor big body play allows children the opportunity to use their imaginations, develop problem solving skills, make decisions, and learn new things by making up games, exploring the preschool playground, and playing with others.
Outdoor play also provides the unique opportunity for children to conquer fears and in doing so, gain self-confidence. For example, on a preschool playground I witnessed a 3 year old come back to a slide several times to look at the equipment nervously. After encouragement, the child climbed to the top and slid down, exclaiming “I did it! I did it!” in an excited voice. What a great way to gain some confidence in herself!
As an Early Childhood Education student said, “With the value that rough-and-tumble play has for physical and social development, we should work it in as a center and allow the children to engage in it like they would other classroom centers, such as blocks, reading, or puzzles” (Carlson 7). The possibilities for learning and development are endless! What better place for rough-and-tumble play than the preschool playground? For other ideas about how children are learning on the preschool playground, please visit The Adventurous Child.
Carlson, Frances. Big Body Play. Washington DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children, 2011.