with Catherine McCullogh
Sport BOP Community Manager
Play is at risk in our modern lifestyles. Many of us took play for granted in our younger years, and have fond memories of getting together with the neighbours and playing ‘go home, stay home’, kicking a ball around, or the excitement of obtaining a large box from a recently acquired new appliance and turning it into the best hut possible. Times have changed, though, and it’s worth asking if the younger generation are getting the same opportunities we did.
Is it as easy to encourage play as it was back when we were younger? Are we trying to take greater control and structure or formalise our children’s activities too much?
As we reflect on these questions, we need to consider that there are some environmental and societal influences that are manipulating how much our children are playing. There may not be so many open spaces available as there once were, and our once quiet local street may now have a constant flow of traffic. Our perception of ‘safe’ and unsafe’ activities has changed over time and we are influenced by what we hear regarding health and safety. Then we have the biggest influence of all – our modern virtual world where sedentary behaviour is becoming the norm and children are spending several hours looking at screens.
So what skills are our children missing out on if they aren’t experiencing free play? This is the time when they learn to use their imagination and get creative, when nothing is right or wrong and they can experiment without a sense of failure. Fun, unstructured play is also a great time for children to learn important fundamental movement skills such as throwing or catching. Most importantly children can learn about relationships with others, how to communicate appropriately, how to manage their emotions and how to compromise and share with others.
It’s important that we remember all the fun and excitement we experienced through our childhood. While adapting to our modern environments, we can still encourage children to play. The Bay of Plenty has many open spaces and reserves to explore and connect with, and Sport Bay of Plenty can help you with lots of ideas to get out there and experience our region.
Check out sportbop.co.nz or the Sport Bay of Plenty Facebook page to learn more about our upcoming scavenger hunts for the school holidays across six great sites in the region, as well as other family-friendly activities happening about the place.