More Free Play, Please.

More Free Play, Please.

Teaching requires planning, but what happens when you overbook your student’s days with too many activities, schoolwork, and appointments? What is lost when a child’s life becomes increasingly devoid of opportunities to be creative, imaginative, and playful?

Too often we time-crunch our children’s days with a rigid schedule and not enough time to play, which, according to Dr. Peter Gray, serves a variety of developmental functions that promote children’s mental health.

In a study on the Investigation of the Status of Outdoor Play, Rhonda Clements asked mothers to compare their own memories of their playtime to their children’s current schedules. Eighty-five percent noted that their children played outdoors less frequently and for shorter periods of time than they had. The mothers noted that they restricted their own children’s outdoor play because of safety concerns, a fact echoed in other surveys where parents mentioned child predators, road traffic, and bullies as reasons for restricting their children’s outdoor play.

Today, make sure to allow time for your child to play. Don’t think about the time (the clock will still be there when you return). Observe. Focus on interacting. Listen. Let your child lead. Resist the urge to interrupt with suggestions or shortcuts. What do you notice?

How do you work play into your homeschooling day? What can you learn from your child about imagination and play?

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