Playground Pursuits Good for the Brain

23 August 2017

It can be difficult to imagine the impact a play area can have on both physical and healthy brain development; confidence; self-esteem; risk taking; problem solving; and critical thinking, but our College educators are very aware of its importance and this has been one of the driving forces behind the newly developed playground structure in the College’s Prep area.

The College places a high importance on physical activity for students across the whole of the College through its specialist Physical Education classes and sporting pursuits, but it also understands, especially for its younger students, these healthy habits, the ones that ultimately develop a child’s gross motor skills, are best learnt through the process of having fun through play.

In the past, there has been much focus on fine motor skills, but Mrs Sarah Rowan, the College’s Head of Junior School notes, “Gross motor skills are just as vital because these are the physical skills that require use of the whole body to move, involving the movement of different parts of our body at the same time in a coordinated manner.”

These skills are often related to participation in sporting events, however, gross motor skills are used throughout the whole day – from getting dressed, to eating and drinking; standing; walking; sitting; and balancing at a desk to complete tasks.

So what is the real difference? Gross motor skills get you to where you need to go, while fine motor skills help you to do what you need to do once you get there. Mrs Rowan explains it this way, “If your child wanted to do a craft activity, they would walk to the table and sit down (gross motor skills) and they would then fold, cut or colour the paper (fine motor skills).” Two separate sets of skills, but both fundamental to a child’s development.

Whilst navigating their new playground, Pease Lutheran College Prep students have been developing not only their physical health, but the health of their gross motor skills, all through the most important channel – FUN! Add in the element of water in the river stream and you have – DOUBLE THE FUN!

But don’t just take our word for it… Prep student, Aapti says, “There are two slides and the really big one is super-high and super-fast and the swings go super-high too. It’s lots of fun.” Ruby admits, “I like to play shop and pretend we are cooking chocolate cake”, while Eli proudly states, “I like climbing up the rock wall like a spider!” And Elias was excited to tell us, “I went round and round the fireman’s pole and came down really fast.”