If play could be described for its nutritional value, what kind of nutrition would your kids be getting with their play?
It’s an intriguing concept put forward by Ya’ara Bashan Haham, an Israeli researcher and consultant specializing in children’s playground design. According to Haham, many playgrounds don’t support play that is “nutritionally” complete for kids. When selecting and designing equipment, these playgrounds don’t stimulate a broad enough array of play behaviours to support the complete physical, mental, and social development of the children who play there.
When it comes to the food we eat, Haham points out that developed countries require that the packaging stipulate the nutritional content of each item. Even bread loaves have a nutritional table to help you make an informed choice when you choose your bread.
But what about play? In the absence of a list of essential nutrients, how do we know if our children’s play is delivering everything that they need for their development? Haham has captured this idea in a series of whimsical internet memes and posters that are alternately informative and amusing. You can see them below.
Along with playground design, Haham invites us to ask: Are some forms of active play better than others? Is jump rope better than tag? Is a game of marbles less valuable than shooting baskets?
In truth, all play is “good.” Almost any time kids move and interact with imagination is better than the time they spend sitting on the sofa watching television. However, Haham’s memes and posters invite us to reflect in a way that can help us to ensure our kids are getting a full spectrum of play “nutrition.”