EDUCATION MATTERS—SANFORD SCHOOL'S PRIVATE SCHOOL BLOG

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The importance of outdoor learning and play

Posted by Mark Anderson on May 31, 2019 at 5:38 PM
Mark Anderson
 
sanford_school_ls_playgroundWhy do we care about outdoor spaces? Numerous studies have shown that recess and play time are important for academic learning. In a document titled, The Importance of Outdoor Play and Its Impact on Brain Development In Children, faculty members and nursing students at the University of Missouri shared that outdoor play allows school-aged children to improve their ability to learn. The authors also noted that outdoor play helps to:
  • Increase the flow of blood to the brain. The blood delivers oxygen and glucose, which the brain needs for heightened alertness and mental focus.
  • Build up the body’s level of brain-derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF. BDNF causes the brain’s nerve cells to branch out, join together, and communicate with each other in new ways, which leads to children’s openness to learning and more capacity for knowledge.
  • Build new brain cells in a brain region called dentate gyrus, which is linked with memory and memory loss.
  • Increase the size of basal ganglia, a key part of the brain that aids in maintaining attention and executive control or the ability to coordinate actions and thoughts crisply.
  • Strengthen the vestibular systems that create spatial awareness and mental alertness, providing children with the framework for reading and other academic skills.

Students, parents, and even fellow educators frequently tell us how fortunate we are to have an expansive, college-like campus. More importantly, we have facilities where students can learn, collaborate, explore, compete, create, and play. In fact, offering students ages 3 to 18 great indoor and outdoor spaces is an important component of our Sanford program.

sanford_school_outdoorBut Sanford playgrounds aren’t limited to the areas with jungle gyms and GaGa pits. When we built the Geipel Center for Performing Arts, the Pirnie STEM lab, and the Wahl Woodworking Shop in Stewart Cottage, we were thinking about students who would work and play in state-of-the-art facilities.

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Mark Anderson is the Head of Sanford School. Mark and his family moved to Delaware in 2011 when he assumed the headship at Sanford.  He received his bachelor's in Elementary Education from the University of Missouri and earned his M.A. in Educational Leadership from Maryville University.


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Topics: Education, Parenting Tips, Sanford School