This post is in celebration of the great blog Teach Preschool who has hit a huge milestone of 20,000 followers on facebook. She asked bloggers to help her celebrate by choosing one letter of the alphabet to highlight. You can check out all the other letters on her blog.
I chose to talk about something that doesn't have a lot to do with art, but something I think is important for all children to have.
F is for Free Play
It seems sometimes kids don't have much time for free play. Between television, school, homework, soccer practice, dance class, karate lessons, piano lessons, and mom trying to teach kids as well; kids seem to have less and less time to just play. This over-scheduling of our children is hard to not do. My kids are at school for 8 hours with the bus ride to and from. By the time they walk in the door at 4 pm, we are left with not much time for anything. Schedule a few extra curricular activities like soccer, tee ball, dance, or piano and they don't have much time for anything else. Reports are even finding that some children are so over scheduled they are becoming stressed. The American Academy of Pediatrics has even suggested that Pediatricians start checking children's levels of stress.
Play is very important to a child's development. Free play is not adult organized. It is unstructured and imaginative. Experts say that free play is essential to a child's growth and development. There are many believed benefits to free play. In an article by the AAP, several benefits were found.
|aids in the development of a strong child/parent bond.|
|helps children to develop creativity.|
|allows children to develop dexterity.|
|encourages children to interact with the world around them.|
|helps children learn confidence|
|grants children the opportunity to practice decision making skills|
|important to healthy brain development|
|during play children practice adult roles.|
|teaches children how to work in groups and to share, compromise and learn self advocacy.|
|helps children discover their own areas of interest.|
|build active healthy bodies|
Sometimes, especially while reading all the many wonderful blogs out there, I feel my children need more structure and more activities provided by me. I see other kids who are excelling in ways my children seem to not be (my kids have never been in any organized sports or music lessons and I often feel guilty for this.) It is a competitive world we live in and when you see other children doing so many things it is important not to feel the pressure to put your own children into that competitiveness. Free play is essential and important. Parents need to feel they are not failing to just allow their kids to be. It is also important to know what your kids can handle. I think organized sports and instruction to be important too, but signing kids up for too many is where the harm comes in. My 7 year is taking her first organized sport starting this fall. I wanted so much to put her in dance, piano, and soccer. I decided to let her chose one and soccer won out. I may add piano to it at one point, but feel the importance of allowing her to still have plenty of free time.
Do you schedule free play in your house? Do you find it hard to have time for free play? Does your school have adequate free play time?