Chipper Tips: Develop Healthy Learning Habits with Play!

“It is paradoxical that many educators and parents still differentiate between a time for learning and a time for play without seeing the vital connection between them.” –Leo F. Buscaglia

Through play, children try out new skills, explore their imagination and creativity, and develop relationships with other people in their lives. Play can be an especially powerful bonding time for you, as a parent or caregiver. Playtime with your child also brings out the best in you. The beauty of this learning and growing time is that the motivation for a young child to play is already there – it is enjoyable!

Chipper is an ambassador in the national movement to prevent Summer Learning Loss, build 21st Century Life Skills and save hands-on learning in schools. Now, more than ever, kids need resources to develop healthy habits in a playful way. According to a recent article from Scientific American Magazine, “Free, imaginative play is crucial for normal social, emotional and cognitive development. It makes us better adjusted, smarter and less stressed.”


Here are 5 tips for parents and teachers to help their children develop healthy learning habits:

• Encourage play. Playing alone and with others not only builds brain development, it also helps children develop social skills and a sense of ethics. The most effective play is free of evaluation and correction (after all, throwing a ball shouldn’t be “right” or “wrong”), while promoting autonomy.

• Play together. In addition to their ABCs and 123s, preschool children are learning and developing life skills that will shape who they grow into as adults.  One of these building blocks is learning to play well with others and accepting one another’s differences. Camp is a great place for kids to interact with each other.

• Get adequate sleep and proper nutrition. Your child will do their best if they get to sleep early and eat a healthy breakfast each day before school. A daily diet of junk food is not compatible with learning. It can cause listlessness and hyperactivity, which can impair a child’s ability to learn. Skipping breakfast, especially, is a detriment to a child’s education.

• Continue year-long education. Routine provides structure, which is often lacking during the summer months when children all too quickly become detached from the lessons they learned throughout the school year.  Maintaining a schedule throughout the summer supports an environment that is less of a contrast to the classroom and provides a healthy balance between building skills, play and rest. An easy way for parents to keep their kids learning throughout the summer is by signing them up for camp.

• Monitor screen-time. While there are quite a few educational and engaging mobile apps and games to play on TV today, balance the tech time with “climb a tree” time.  Curious exploration, social interaction and play should be on the daily to-do list.

Play helps a child learn to solve problems, promotes flexibility and motivation, teaches regulation of emotions and builds resilience and confidence. It is also essential to the development of the child’s brain, forming the basis of healthy cognitive function and mastery of the child’s physical world.
If you take just a moment to reflect on your own childhood you will most likely recall days playing hide-and-seek, kick-the-can, or just riding bikes to the local park. Now think about what your child will remember back to when they are an adult. From the camp or school program you choose to the activities you provide at home, see each decision as an opportunity to enrich your child’s life and excite their motivation to play and explore their own interests. In honor of National Backyard Games Week, here are 50 ways to play in your own backyard! 


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