See, just this weekend I suggested we'd visit the local museum to my children and I was met with a moaning reply and a swift “no”. They've never been to the museum and are old enough to understand some of the exhibits there, which is why I wanted to bring them along but no one agreed. They also exclaimed that they would rather visit the neighborhood park and I immediately fell into deep thought figuring out why would they go play outdoors in the cold (no matter how useful for them) and skip the comfort and serenity of the museum.
This had me thinking. What differences do the two places have in the minds of a child? Granted, from the start, we can all agree that museums aren't the most exciting of places for most people, let alone children, but there are many who would want to go there. I did when I was young, so did my friends and the people around me. We liked looking at ancient things and objects – it interested us. However, if we had to have an evening of pure and unadulterated fun, we would rather visit an amusement park. The drawback, however, was that the latter place didn't give us any added information nor was it insightful. This is exactly what children today lack – the insight towards different worlds and different and various fashions of information. Even if taken in at very minute amounts, the information builds up to become an important basis of learning for the coming years.
However, this by no means is supposed to sound like I'm dejecting the importance of play. I'm a firm believer that most of the problems that children face today can be solved by outdoor activities. We're talking about problems that have manifested on a huge level today, i.e. obesity. It's been prevalent in adults for a while now but childhood obesity is something that has picked up its stride quite a lot in the past few years. Outdoor play helps children regarding this issue, but the problem we face today is that more and more children are turning towards virtual forms of play and ignoring the ones that matter. In young children, outdoor and physical play helps build their key cognitive skills and refines their motor skills. This pays dividend in the future.
So both, museums (learning) and playgrounds (active play) are equally important, is what we've concluded. So why is there a bias in parents towards this? Why are parents so caught up with learning and studies and tend to ignore play altogether? Both are essential in their own place and both are needed to ensure proper development of a child. Still, school hours are increased and homework is mercilessly piled on. Moderation is important.