Important: Let children play!

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.”  ~ Fred Rogers

Do you play with your grandchildren?  Do you give them the freedom to play by themselves? Hopefully you do. Please take a look at the following report from The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and make play a part of your life with your grandkids. You both will reap the benefits.

The AAP report explains the importance of playtime, “This may seem old-fashioned, but there are skills to be learned when kids aren’t told what to do,” says Dr. Michael Yogman, a Harvard Medical School pediatrician, who led the drafting of this report. The academy asks doctors to advise parents before their babies turn 2 that play is important for a child’s development. Schools are also being told to restore play.

“Play is not frivolous,” declares the AAP. “Collaboration, negotiation, conflict, self-advocacy, decision-making, a sense of agency, creativity, leadership, and increased physical activity are just some of the skills and benefits children gain through play.”

Have you watched your grandchildren play, seen the sparkle in their eyes, the smiles on their faces, and heard the giggles as they frolic? Play gives kids permission to enter the worlds of make believe and discovery. Free play promotes problem-solving, independence, team work, conversation, resilience, face to face time, and independence. With the stress on academics beginning earlier and earlier, free play has become more and more limited. “In a report titled ‘Crisis in the Kindergarten,’ a consortium of educators, health professionals, and child advocates called the loss of play in early childhood, ‘a tragedy, both for the children themselves and for our nation and world.’ Kids in play-based kindergartens end up equally good or better at reading and other intellectual skills, and they are more likely to become well-adjusted healthy people.'”

Today’s digital devices also contribute to taking away free play. “Last year Common Sense Media reported that children up through age 8 spent an average of two hours and 19 minutes in front of screens each day, including an average of 42 minutes a day for those under 2.”

As grandparents we are in a unique position. We have the opportunity and the time to encourage play.  It’s truly liberating to know that promoting play is one of the most valuable things we can do. Let’s do it!


*Portions of this article from: Melissa Healy, “Doctor’s orders: Let children Just Play”, LA Times, 8/20/18.