IMG_1635As you may have noticed, we really like to play at Straight Blast Gym. In fact, our kids program is based entirely on the scientifically proven concept that play is the most effective method for children to learn. We know this from our experience as parents and teachers. But research has helped us to develop our martial arts, yoga, after-school and summer camps to take full advantage of this fact.

Experts agree that play is an important part of child development. They weigh in often about the appropriate and inappropriate amount of screen time, as well as how and when children should be engaged in various forms of exercise. But what few experts talk about openly is the importance of “free play” for children. This is particularly important when it comes to playing in the outdoors. Play is critical.

Play fosters creativity, social interactions, and forces children to discover the natural consequences of actions. There was a failure-success experience for my own children when they figured out how to tie together the branches to form a make-shift doorway on their outdoor fort. Play is so important that the American Academy of Pediatrics says that it is “essential for helping children reach important social, emotional, and cognitive developmental milestones as well as helping them to manage stress and become resilient.”

Experts also agree that outdoor activities are essential to connect our children to the natural world. A connection with nature as a young child gives a sense of belonging in the world and gives reference to education in the natural sciences, physics, math, and the like. But just like a playground offers a different outdoor experience than an open field, a directed hike through the woods deprives children of the opportunity and responsibility to use their own senses, reflections, and intellect to engage with the world.

Primate Playground is precisely where we bring together the best of both worlds. SBG Primates use the outdoors in much the same way they use the indoors. Run, jump, skip, roll, hop, climb, play, cooperate, win, lose, and laugh. They garden to learn about the cycle of life, the source of food, and the responsibility of caring for something else. They explore the natural world – hiking, swimming, and playing outside. They visit farms, museums, parks, lakes, streams, and more.

Summer for Primate Playground is nothing short of an outdoor wonderland for child development. Erin, our Program Director, has a resume longer than my grocery list of experiences that have prepared her for this position – introducing your child to the world AND to themselves.

If you haven’t signed your child up for Primate Playground, do it today.