The value of Free Play

I’ve just finished a camp with an international school in the Singapore Zoo, and I realise that most local Singaporeans have forgotten the value of free play. [Doing camps in the Zoo are great breeding grounds for musings and thoughts on the education system and outdoor learning] The teachers from this school will actually give the kids time to just run around and use up their energy, instead of getting them to sit down and be quiet.

It was a brilliant idea, really. Kids, in the first place, love running around, and they usually have too much energy, hence may pay little attention to what you’re trying to teach them subsequently. So why not let them run off some of those energy? I even got dragged into it, and really, my stamina is terrible.

Just as it’s important for kids to know why they’re allowed/not allowed to do certain things, and important for us adults (though I’m technically still a minor under the law!) to lead by example, it’s also important for kids to be able to play outdoors!

A repeated concept, but I still don’t get why is it that, as kids, almost everything’s about outdoors and animals and playing, but as they slowly grow older, it becomes just computers, televisions, indoors and studying? If you look at children books, most are about exploring Nature, or set in the outdoors etc. You rarely see books about using the television/computer, or shopping sprees in shopping centres (if any, they’d be about grocery shopping). Though I’m not too sure if in real life in Singapore, do most kids spend time outdoors or indoors (having tuition)?

I do know though, that the little I knew about Nature probably came from the books I read in Primary School. But when younger I was no fan of animals. Outdoors yes, I think I’ve always liked it, but not quite so much biodiversity. It grew on me, as I grew older 🙂

 

We should all have some time for free play in our lives, all take some time to spend outdoors in the sunshine. Cos life’s not all about grades and results! From the little time I spent with the kids and teachers of this school, it seems to me that the emphasis of their education is to be a good steward of the earth (to care for our planet), global exposure (grade 1s stay over in school, grade 2s in the Zoo, grades 3 onwards go overseas) and caring for others (teachers kept emphasising the need to look out for friends). I think it’s good that emphasis is placed on these “soft skills”. And it’s the same in local schools, I’m sure, to a certain extent. Though academic performance still seems to be of utmost importance?

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About Jocelyne Sze

I'm a Nature-lover, aspiring conservationist, and wannabe traveller in search of outdoor adventure.
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