Experts Make Urgent Appeal: It’s Time for Children to Play
Play is essential to children’s healthy cognitive and emotional development. Neuroscientists have concluded that play-based learning positively affects the development of narrative language and acquisition of grammar, while also helping children grow intellectually, physically and socially-emotionally.
Unfortunately, the decline of play at home and school has had a detrimental effect on children. The American Association of Pediatrics now recommends pediatricians prescribe play. At the elementary school level, kindergarteners and first graders are most impacted, as their bodies need to move, their hands need to explore, and their minds need appropriate stimulation for healthy brain development.
During this past year, many families and educators have faced challenges related to distance learning. To make learning and life better for our kids, solutions have ranged from tech applications to games, projects or even new instructional approaches. Although each of these has tremendous value, we need to acknowledge one of the most impactful aspects of learning and wellness: play
Call to Action
All learners need support from their schools as well as their parents and families. Learners should be given healthy and significant play-based experiences each day. Think about the following:
- “Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength”(American Academy of Pediatrics).
- “Play is important to healthy brain development. It is through play that children at a very early age engage and interact in the world around them” (American Academy of Pediatrics).
- “Play isn’t all fun and games — it’s also an important teaching tool! Through play, kids learn how to interact with others and develop critical lifelong skills” (The Genius of Play).
Play as a Solution for Common Challenges
How can we all support kids with challenges such as procrastination, anxiety, depression, frustration, sleeplessness, screen overload and more? A readily available solution to these common challenges is play.
Nicole Huguenin, Director of Arts Integration and Play at the Maker Learning Network, said, “Play brings children into the present. Play can relieve many of the stressors children experience.”
Experts agree that we need to intentionally create opportunities for young people to be absorbed in screen time less frequently.
Playmakers Institute’s Dr. Angie Nastovska says that unplugging and connecting with life have become harder than ever. She suggests that play is important to counterbalance the effects of technology.
“Learning is much more than just a school-based endeavor,” Nastovska said.
Many believe that we need to educate teachers and parents together on this issue. Lisa Latimer, Director at iLEAD Agua Dulce and play-based learning advocate with IPA USA and the Playmakers Institute, wants others to know that play is not frivolous.
“People need to look at play through a different lens and change how they think about play,” she said.
- Harvard University’s Activities Guide: Enhancing and Practicing Executive Function Skills with Children from Infancy to Adolescence
- Why Outdoor Play Boots Productivity and Development
- The Benefits of Play For Adults
- iLEAD Through Play
- International Play Association USA
- IPA-USA Facebook Page
- Get Your Kids in the Garden
- How to Create a Backyard River System
- How to Set Up a Compass Treasure Hunt
- Campfire Cooking
- Naturally Powered Toys
- Eartheasy Guide to Outdoor Education