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Did You (Un)Schedule Time for Play?
by The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association   |   September 13   |   0 Comments
You’ve crossed off all the items on your child’s back-to-school list. You’ve jammed everything into that fashionable, must-have backpack. You’ve stocked healthy, lunch-ready items. You’ve paid the dance class tuition, picked up the new soccer uniform and scheduled the homework tutor.

Forget something?

In too many cases, the answer is yes. Today’s children head back to school equipped with backpacks full of academic tools, and many come home to environments rich with Internet access, books, and other ways to support what happens in school. Yet one thing is frequently missing: the chance to learn through the natural activity of child-directed play.

Researchers have demonstrated that play is central to the healthy development of children in all areas of development: cognitively, physically, emotionally. Many schools tend to focus almost exclusively on academic skills and are increasingly eliminating children’s access to outdoor physical activity, problem solving with and by peers, imaginative play, and the arts.

How can parents keep kids playing amidst all the homework and after-school activities that occupy so much of the average child’s week during the school year? Here are some suggestions:

  • Resist the temptation to add something new to your child’s schedule. Instead, take something off the schedule. Let kids play, learn through experience, and make their own hands-on discoveries.
  • Limit television and computer time.
  • Find play in the everyday. Make laundry, bath time, and grocery shopping fun.
  • Set aside an evening a week for family game night.

By Susan J. Oliver for the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association.

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