Outdoor games form an integral part of overall development in children. Outdoor play provides numerous benefits such as development of gross and fine motor skills, physical, emotional and mental wellbeing, skill development and values building such as honesty, discipline, self-control and many more. However, the amount of playtime children spend on the playgrounds is eventually decreasing.
While on one hand where experts contemplate play as the fundamental right of a child; we often tend to forget the importance of play in the life of a child. Under the burden of high academic competition, parents are pushing their kids hard since pre-school. Parents are made to believe that flashcards and educational toys can lead their kids on the path to achieve greater success academically decreasing the actual time children are spending on the playgrounds. We have ended up creating a false dichotomy between learning and play.
We should make it clear in our minds that educational toys and learning material designed for academic success cannot make a replacement for PLAY.
Play should comprise of comprehensive outdoor activity focused on overall awareness and development. Learning cannot be limited to academics. Learning is a vast process of making the child aware of his/her surroundings, culture, tradition values and much more than mere engagement in educational toys.
Beyond curriculum and academics lies a world of exploration and developing life skills. Folklore and traditional games, playgrounds, green spaces such as parks & forests and blue spaces such as lakes & rivers provide vast opportunity for inculcating life skills.
Folklore and traditional outdoor games that include phrases and rhymes from folklore reflect the lifestyle adopted by people, their psychology, traditions and culture. The stories narrated and the content of the game make children aware of their cultural values and traditions while they do not miss out on the fun.
Specially designed games and play tasks based on folklore also develop a high level of skill and playing abilities in children along with intellectual and emotional, social and cultural growth. They help form a special bond amongst the kids. Studies report that outdoor games with elements of folklore enhance the child’s motion abilities and have positive effect on respiratory and cardiovascular systems.
Another set of games that enrich the child’s cultural and traditional experience are the traditional games played from time immemorial in various regions. Traditional games often offer greater uneven set-ups. Sometimes the participants who were opponents may suddenly become teammates, a teammate may be strength to the team as a whole but may have a contrast way of operation in comparison to the other teammates. This inconsistency imbibes a sense of strength to children for dealing with adverse situations as a team and freedom to deal with the situations individually on his turn.
Traditional games are a miniature gateway to the vast cultural heritage of the country. They are accessible to all because they require minimal components. Traditional games offer a chance for development of adaptation and decision-making skills, with enhanced communication and creative abilities.
Outdoor games, exercise and physical activities need not be limited to the playgrounds. They may be conducted in the settings amidst nature (GREEN SPACES) such as parks, forests and those environments in presence of water bodies (BLUE SPACES) defined as Green Exercise. The Green Spaces create environmental awareness and stress upon the need to preserve it.
It is important to allow kids outdoors for them to form their own experiences of adventure and challenges without being continuously monitored and controlled. We need to make sure that PLAY creates memories that children can cherish for their lifetime and connect to the world in their own way.