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The Importance of Play

Students, parents, and even fellow educators frequently tell us how fortunate we are to have an expansive, college-like campus. More importantly, we have facilities where students can learn, collaborate, explore, compete, create, and play. In fact, offering students ages 3 to 18 great indoor and outdoor spaces is an important component of our Sanford program.
Why do we care about outdoor spaces? Numerous studies have shown that recess and play time are important for academic learning. In a University of Missouri document titled The Importance of Outdoor Play and Its Impact on Brain Development In Children, the authors shared that outdoor play allows school-aged children to:
  • Improve their ability to learn
  • Increase blood flow to the brain, delivering oxygen and glucose—which the brain needs for heightened alertness and mental focus
  • Build up the body’s level of brain-derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF, leading to children’s openness to learning and more capacity for knowledge
  • Build new brain cells in a brain region called dentate gyrus, which is linked with memory and memory loss
  • Increase the size of basal ganglia, a key part of the brain that aids in maintaining attention and executive control or the ability to coordinate actions and thoughts crisply
  • Strengthen the vestibular systems that create spatial awareness and mental alertness, providing children with the framework for reading and other academic skills.
Thankfully, due to the support and generosity of our donors, we have been able to enhance several of our outdoor spaces over the past few years. Most recently, we used proceeds from the 2018 Home & School Auction to make significant enhancements to our Lower and Middle School playgrounds.
 
But Sanford playgrounds aren’t limited to the areas with jungle gyms and GaGa pits. When we built the Geipel Center for Performing Arts, the Pirnie STEM Lab, and the Wahl Woodworking Shop in Stewart Cottage, we were thinking about students who would work and play in state-of-the-art facilities.
 
Yes…we are fortunate to have a campus that offers our students exceptional and exciting college-prep experiences. Rest assured, we aren’t finished yet. Sanford will continually look for ways to improve our campus, thereby providing our teachers and students even better places to learn, create, and play.
 
If you would like to learn more about the benefits of play, check out:
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