Matt On Playgrounds

November 14, 2013

(Guest blogger Matt Allio writes about play and playgrounds for our Walden School Blog this week.)

Over the years, I’ve read some very interesting and instructive books on how children play and what they learn from play.  That, I’m sure, comes as no surprise.  As the director of an independent school that enrolls elementary age children, that’s what I’m supposed to read.

In looking over my shoulder at my office bookshelf as I write this, I’ve been able to locate three books that had significant influence on how I view children and play.  I won’t go into great detail about these books, but they are:

  • Playground Politics by Stanley Greenspan.  Published in 1993, this book discusses two simultaneous realities of elementary school children: appetite for competition and independence; and their continuing and enormous need for security, closeness, and love.
  • The Geography of Childhood by Gary Paul Trimble and Stephan Trimble.  Published in 1994, the authors pose searching questions about what may happen to children who are denied exposure to wild places and they believe this is a reality for more kids today than at any time in human history.
  • Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv.  Published in 2005, the author directly links the lack of nature in the lives of today’s wired generation to some of the most disturbing childhood trends such as the rises in ADHD and clinical depression.

These three books, and many others, along with my direct experience with children has led me to certain beliefs and practices when it comes to unstructured play for children.  At any rate, I was prompted this week by an article about unstructured play for children:

“Unstructured Play Makes Kids Smarter” by Eric Steinman.

When I read the article linked above, it truly resonated with me. Yet I am most interested, for now, to prompt discussion among our families on how they feel about the article.

Post your thoughts here in the Comments or stop by to chat with me about the article.


Matt Allio
Director, Walden School


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