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Daily Telegraph


1 Toddlers learn through play: if they don't play, they won't learn.

Infants are programmed to explore their world through play, and all subsequent learning is based on the quality of these early experiences. Increasingly, however, parental fears about germs, dirt, electricity and accidents mean toddlers are strapped into safety seats and children of all ages are corralled in front of the TV.


2 Fresh air and exercise make children healthy.

All children need the chance to run and play outdoors to develop their physical control and coordination, and some need regular opportunities to run off excess energy. Research shows the incidence of ADHD is reduced if children play outside in green places.


3 Outdoor play develops their minds.

Natural objects - trees, bushes, plants, rocks, pebbles, sticks, mud, water, sand - lead children naturally to activities that develop understanding of the way the world works. They also unlock the imagination, leading ot a variety of creative play.


4 Free-range play teaches life skills.

Tim Gill, an expert on play, talks about the importance of "everyday adventures", real experiences through which children learn how to assess risks, make judgements and avoid danger. As children no longer learn these dkills through play, psychologists believe some are excessively reckless and others excessively timid. And now ethat most play takes place under close supervision, children don't have opportunities to learn to make friends, play as part of a group and resolve minor conflicts.


5 PE and outdoor activities enhance education.

Many children learn lessons about co-operation and collaboration from competitive sports and other outdoor activities. Yet fears of accidents and litigation mean schools often find it's easier not to bother.

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