Thursday, April 17, 2014

Childhood Leisure a Thing of the Past?

It’s time for spring break!  What will your kids be doing with their time away from school?  Whether your children will be traveling or staying at home, the simple opportunity for free play can be a gift. 

Are youth losing time for free play?  It seems that young people are more likely to be in structured, supervised activities.  According to Melman, over the past 20 years, youth have faced a 25% decrease in playtime and 50% decrease in outdoor activities.  Less free time and leisure activities and overscheduling may lead to increased anxiety and stress.  That does not mean we want to entirely give up structured activities, but discern how much is too much and work to create balance.  

While we may be pushing for academic achievement and other structured activities, a play break could help out in our endeavors more than we realize.  Play is cited as an integral part of child development, helping increase cognitive and academic success, building social skills and self-esteem,  fostering emotional strength, helping youth explore the natural world and more.   If we take a play break, we actually boost our learning.  So, while a week’s break is great, how can we add breaks and free time into our regular schedules?

May you allow space for free time and play during spring break and beyond.

For more thoughts on the benefits of play, see here:

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