Modern society seems fixated and always being in motion. There is agreat emphasis placed upon always being involved in something. Families almost seem proud to talk about how busy they are. Is this really such a good thing. Given a moment to ponder, most of us would agree that always being busy is not healthy. Yet we often choose the hectic life we are getting. According to a post I just read at Quartz, we need to take this far more seriously.
For many parents, back-to-school season incites a mad scramble to organize kids’ activities—from music lessons to math club and after-school tutoring. But a new policy report from the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests we’d do better to pencil in big blocks of time devoted to nothing but free play.
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If that's what it takes, we might need to literally block off time for it.
“Play is not frivolous,” the report says. Rather, research shows that play helps children develop language and executive functioning skills, learn to negotiate with others and manage stress, and figure out how to pursue their goals while ignoring distractions, among other things. The report warns that parents and schools are focusing on academic achievement at the expense of play, and recommends that pediatricians attempt to turn the tide by prescribing play during well visits for children.
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There you have it. This is a rather impressive list of benefits from play. And to be sure, there will be conflict and disagreements when kids play but they will also get practice in learning how to handle these situations.
The importance of play
It’s a well-known fact that American kids are playing a lot less these days. From 1981 to 1997, children’s playtime decreased by 25%, the report says. A national survey of 8,950 preschool children and parents found that only 51% of children went outside to walk or play once per day with either parent. And because of increased academic pressure, 30% of US kindergarten children no longer have recess.
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Why on earth do kindergarten kids need academic pressure? This is so dumb.
Outdoor play allows kids to integrate a bunch of senses: throwing balls or playing tag lets them learn to use the body and mind in tandem. Perhaps that’s why research shows that countries that offer more recess to young children see greater academic success among the children as they get older. There’s also social or pretend play(which can happen alone or with others), when kids experiment with taking on roles—teaching a classroom full of stuffed animals, or playing house.
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The professionals pushing all of this early academic nonsense have it backwards. More play time at a young age is one of the best things to do for kids.
Getting play back on track
While the report’s authors worry that parents’ laser-focus on achievement has eaten away at play time, they attribute the problem to social pressures rather than poor intentions. “Parental guilt has led to competition over who can schedule more ‘enrichment opportunities’ for their children,” they write. “As a result, there is little time left in the day for children’s free play, for parental reading to children, or for family meal times.”
Parents have to get real about what really matters and keep the long view in sight. Plus, doesn't it sound more fun for everyone to have fewer activities outside of the home?
Check out the full article below.
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