Why Prescriptions for Kids to Play Are Showing Up
By Sandy Schroeder
When I grew up -- a while ago -- playing was central to every kid’s existence. We played all summer long, coming in for supper, and then heading out the next morning. Now the New York Times is talking about prescriptions for kids to play as the American Academy of Pediatrics advises, “Let kids play.” So what happened?
Somewhere in the spin forward in a society where screens are everywhere, kids began to play less. Parents may have been concerned about security, or eager to provide special classes, as parent/child time divided a dozen different ways daily to meet everyone’s schedule.
An Official Look at Play
The American Academy of Pediatrics released a policy statement, “The Power of Play: A Pediatric Role in Enhancing Development in Young Children. “The statement talks about “joyful discovery,” as it recommends doctors write a prescription to play for every well visit children have in the first two years of life. Citing repetitive games like “peek-a-boo” and impulse games like “Simon Says,” the doctors say playing as a process may be under siege. Kids may be playing less in response to an environment where 30 percent of today’s kindergartens offer no recess.
Dr. Benard Dreyer, director of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at New York University School of Medicine, said, “The old saying is, play is the work of children. Play is the way they learn and the way they develop. It’s important to understand how all of us, and especially parents, can encourage play.”
What We All Need to Do
Parents may need to make sure their kids are free to run, jump, or just sit still and dream whenever they wish. If you are a parent reading this you may feel the story is much ado about nothing since your kids play all of the time. Or you may see some of the problem as you watch one day spin into another with time tightly structured into rigid little cubes that may ignore playtime.
If you feel playing needs some work at your house, why not start with the things that you did as a kid, and share some of those memories with your kids? Spend a little time after dinner and on the weekends recreating some of the fun times that you had swimming, biking, reading stories, or playing games. Enjoy creating a bunch of new memories for your kids to share with their kids.
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