It’s hard to find anything parents agree on. Every family has its own thoughts on issues like sleep schedules, diets and discipline. But here’s something 76% of parents have come to a consensus on: they wish their kids had more time for play.
Guess what else parents agree on: They played more as a kid than their own children (82% agree), and kids spend too much time with electronic devices (88% agree!) This is all from a recent survey by the Minnesota Children’s Museum.
Parents say playtime is getting lost in the shuffle as kids join more and more activities and families get busier and busier. But it is time to get serious about playtime!
Playtime stretches the imagination. A spoon becomes a pirate’s sword, a tupperware container turns into a rockstar’s drum, and a blanket can be a queen’s cape! Starting around age two, kids can turn everyday objects into something new and exciting. Exercising the imagination is crucial to young children’s development. As Wendell Holmes, Jr. once said: “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”
Playtime builds social skills. Whether an adult is guiding playtime or kids are playing on their own, they naturally learn about people’s feelings and how their actions impact others. Playing with friends also teaches kids to regulate their own emotions, which is a much-needed skill later in life.
Playtime gets kids active. I don’t need to tell you that kids are spending more and more time in front of screens and becoming less and less being active. A recent study in the Journal Pediatrics says preschoolers are not getting enough exercise; kids are active for about 48 minutes a day, when they should be up and about for at least 2 hours. Playtime is good for the body just like it’s good for the mind.
What can we do as parents to promote playtime? It starts by saying no to over scheduling our kids. They don’t need to be in every sport, club or class. Sometimes a chunk of time with nothing planned can be just as beneficial.
What are those favorite toys your kids can’t resist? Keep them handy to encourage playtime.
And, as parents, we can lead by example. Turn off the TV and turn on the imagination! You may find you need playtime too!