Why Play Has Become Critical

Why Play Has Become Critical

Play is not just for fun. It’s downright critical for our kids’ development.

Imagine 2016_44Our children are getting lost in an adult-centered world of structure, measurement and competition. Their time is being taken and the youth-led activity of play is being left behind. Furthermore, there is a gap in access to safe play for children across neighborhoods. Play equipment and materials come with a price tag and outdoor play is harder to come by in certain communities.

There is a reason that young animals play. It develops the cognitive and physical skills necessary to survive in the wild. The same cause has been made for humans. When children play, they build prosocial skills, independence, and creativity, and even practice adult roles. Taking away our kids’ access to play time isn’t just robbing them of a childhood, it is hurting their development and thus their future.

3 Things to do to Support Children’s Play

Schedule youth-led play time.  If you are a parent, caregiver or teacher, you can ensure that unstructured play time is on the schedule. Play among children should be supported as well as independent play time for each child.

Advocate for playtime in preschool.  If you are a parent, teacher or youth advocate, get involved in discussions around education policy. Familiarize yourself with youth development and education research and the benefits of play to advocate to keep play time sacred in our early youth development space. Continue advocating for unstructured, youth-led play and activities beyond early child education.

Play with kids.  It is also important for adults to play with children. Whether you are a parent, caregiver or friend to a child, take the opportunity to join children in their world of play. It gives you an opportunity to support their play and observe and learn more about the child.  The byproduct is you will have fun reconnecting to this part of yourself.

Together we can support our youth’s development by advocating to keep play a part of their day!

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Today in Orange County, most of the work being done in health and human services focuses, appropriately, on the immediate needs of the disadvantaged. Team Kids takes a different approach, directing their energies toward our youth, teaching them the value and power of working together to solve community issues. In so doing, they are developing the philanthropists of the future and creating systematic change in our community.”

OC United Way, CEO Max Gardner

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