August 24, 2010

Helping kids focus through play

As kids spend less and less time playing outdoors, more and more are having trouble paying attention. A staggering 1 in 20 children today suffer from attention issues that get in the way of their classroom learning.

LeAnne Cantrell, a mother of a son with autism, decided to do something about this disturbing trend, and it started with a playground. But not just any playground. Based on research from a Temple University study, Cantrell set about designing a pilot “sensory yard” at Pontchartrain Elementary School in Mandeville, La.

Key features include:

  • Equipment stations, which offer very specific types of either hard work or sets of movement that are needed to fulfill students’ sensory diets. Each equipment station is nestled within a “green room” of plantings and natural materials, buffering excitement levels between activities.
  • Natural stations, like clusters of trees and grassy hills, which soothe and calm while introducing opportunities for imaginative play
  • Multi-sensory features, like walls and pathways with imprints and embedded tiles and stones, which offer touchable, teachable moments.

Cantrell is one parent who understands that making time for outdoor play doesn’t detract from learning. Quite the opposite, in fact. Not only can children learn from play, but when they return to the classroom, they are better able to learn from their teacher.

Learn more about KidSense Playgrounds.

the buzz in play, adhd, attention deficit, sensory playground, autism