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12/13/2011

Big Body Play

An untried friend is like an uncracked nut.
Russian Proverb

We have been visiting early childhood programs around the world for 30 years and one element that seems to always be in short supply is rough and tumble play.  In the newest addition to the Exchange Store, Big Body Play, Francis Carlson outlines the value of rough and tumble play and provides detailed approaches for implementing and controlling it in early childhood settings.  In explaining why big body play is essential, Carlson observes...

"We know that play such as socio-dramatic play, board games, play to explore objects and learn shapes and textures, finger plays and chants to improve self-regulation, and play that involves building things has myriad benefits for children.  But the fleeing, tagging, climbing, tumbling, and wrestling that most young children seem to crave is also play and is equally beneficial.

"As we might assume, there are also abundant positive effects for physical development when children are active in their play.  We know, for example, that when teachers involve children in physical exercise with intentional planning, children can practice and develop a variety of physical skills and gain optimum health benefits.

"But big body play is not just physical activity with physical benefits.  During such play, children also use increasingly sophisticated communication skills — both verbal and nonverbal — and social skills.  It is also one of the best ways for children (especially boys) to develop empathy and self-regulation.  And creativity and thinking skills are enhanced as children determine and solve problems as they arise in the course of this active play."



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