- 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.
But 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.
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.
If you would like to learn more about the benefits of play, check out:
- Recess Time: The Importance of Play, an Education Matters blog post written by Sanford Director of Athletics Joan Samonisky
- The Benefits of Outdoor Play for Children, an article featured on livestrong.com
- 6 Reasons Children Need To Play Outside, a post published on the Harvard Health blog
- Scientists Say Child's Play Helps Build A Better Brain, an article featured on NPR Ed.