Developing Resilience through Play

Wednesday 11 Aug 2021

According to Maggie Dent (author, educator, and parenting and resilience specialist), resilience refers to one’s ability to manage one’s life successfully by adapting to change and stressful events in healthy and constructive ways - it is our survivability and ‘bounce-back’ ability to the bumps and bruises of life. The past week has tested our resilience with the cancellation and changes to events along with the closure of businesses during the recent lockdown period.

At Living Faith, we aspire for our students to become collaborative, self-directed, adaptable, resilient and determined, creative, problem solvers and responsible leaders. These attributes have certainly been tested over the past week as parents, carers and students have had to adapt to the change of coming to school to learn and socialise to once again learning from home. Given the changing nature of society and the added complexity of the pandemic, building resilience is an essential skill for students to develop.

According to Maggie Dent, play is one of the reasons kids are losing the capacity to be resilient and capable. There is a direct link between the absence of play and health and social trends such as obesity, ADHD, childhood depression, problems in the classroom, violence and the inability for children to interact with their peers.

Play equipment such as monkey bars and seesaws are an example of how the previous generations built resilience through play. We have all tried to go from one side of the monkey bars to the other and not succeeded. This has not stopped us from trying to do this again and again, whether it was because we were trying to get further than a sibling, someone we didn’t like or someone smaller than us. The motivation to succeed on the monkey bars came from within, not from receiving a reward at the end. The seesaw is another example of play equipment where children can develop accountability. If you stand too close to the seesaw when in use, the seesaw hits you on the way up. Very quickly, we adapt and learn from this situation. Whilst many adults may see an element of danger in letting children climb trees, children stretching out

and reaching for the next branch pushes them outside of their comfort zone. This helps children overcome the same fears they might experience when struggling with anxiety. Children learn through play and develop these essential skills.

‘Children are biologically wired to play. Play is very serious business for them. Opportunities for play are essential because they help a child learn many of the emotional and social competencies. These cannot be developed through direct verbal interaction with adults. Solo play, parallel play, imaginative, adult-directed and interactive play are all healthy forms of play for children to experience in childhood.’ - Maggie Dent.

Play builds healthy imaginations and creative and flexible thinking. For more information on how to build resilience in your children, watch this short video. For more information on the importance of play, take a look at some of these resources from Maggie Dent.

- Melissa Tronc, Acting Principal