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The Importance of Play

Free Play Not much has changed since the American Academy of Pediatrics released their clinical report in 2006 about the importance of play in promoting healthy child development.   In fact, play is so important to optimal child development that in 1989 the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights recognized play as a right of every child.   Seriously!  Play is essential to child development. Play contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth.

Play is a child’s work. Play is how a child learns best. Play is the most effective way to involve every aspect of child development – cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth. Play allows children to engage and interact in the world around them. Play enhances children’s learning readiness, learning behaviors, and problem-solving skills. Play is a simple joy that we should all remember as a cherished part of childhood.

Nonetheless, children and youth are experiencing decreased amount of child-directed, free unstructured play.

As another school year comes to an ends start thinking about the importance of this free, unstructured, child-driven play this summer. Are you allowing enough time in each day for your child to be running, bike riding, bouncing balls, climbing, and gazing up at the clouds actively using their imagination? Or are they going to be sitting and passively entertained through the screens of a television, computer, video game or even phone?

Think about it, play is a tried-and-true part of child rearing. Play also offers a perfect opportunity for parents to get fully involved with their children and youth.

Don’t buy into the next thingamajig that promises to make your child, better, brighter, happier, or more successful. Buy into the tried, trusted and traditional methods of play! The only thing you have to invest is quality time with your children and youth.

As the clinical report also mentions, adults who share unscheduled, spontaneous playtime with their children are being wonderfully supportive, nurturing and productive. What do you have to lose? Make some time to play today!

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