What Has Happened to Play?
Play has changed significantly over the last several years. Remember when you were young? If your mothers were anything like ours, she probably stood in your backyard and yelled down the neighborhood calling you inside for dinner and then would do it again in 3 hours for bed! As children, we were NEVER inside. So what has changed? How is it affecting our children, and how can we as parents support our children better?
What Has Changed?
In the past fifteen years, educators and professionals have made significant strides in the identification, diagnosis and treatment of children who are different learners. However, more children are being diagnosed in schools with not only learning issues but attention and emotional issues that are impacting success in the classroom.
Mental Statistics from 2017
- 1 in 5 children has mental health problems
- 43% increase in ADHD
- 37% increase in teen depression
- 100% increase in suicide rate in kids 10-14 years old
|Predominantly Outdoors||Predominantly Indoors|
|Manipulatives (blocks and puzzles)||Electronics|
|Free Play (Jungle Gyms)||Structured/Guided Play (organized sports)|
|Little Litigation||Hyper Litigation (no swings on playgrounds)|
|Trophies for One||Trophies for All|
|Authoritative Parenting||Friendship Parenting|
|Parent Directed Household Structure||Child Directed Household Structure|
|No Social Media||Social Media|
|Boredom allowed- sparked creative play||No Time for boredom- constantly connected|
|Average of 2 hr. Recess throughout the day||Average of 30 minute recess|
|Creative Play||Guided Play|
|Movement-based play||Screen Time|
|Child dominated play||Adult directed play- organized sports|
|Full Sensory Exploration (barefoot)||Limited Sensory Exploration “you’ll get hurt”|
How is it affecting our kids?
It used to be believed that the brain was for thinking and the body was for movement. It has now been proven that movement enhances cognition. The cerebellum is the part of the brain that focuses not only on learning but also movement; it has direct neuronal path to areas of the brain involving attention, memory, and spatial perception (ALL areas impact and promote learning).
- Allows learners to make mistakes without consequences
- Enhances learning
- Improves ability to handle stress
- Triggers the release of neurons that boost cognition
- Enhances social skills, emotional intelligence, and conflict reasoning
Ways to Promote Play:
|Encourage or require daily outdoor play- even if for brief periods of time||Build Forts|
|Hike/Walk your dog||Build with block|
|Jump on the trampoline||Play board games|
|Ride bikes||Play cards|
|Play catch, basketball, wiffle ball||Play with play-doh, slime|
|Hide and seek||Hide and seek|
|Tag||Make cookies or bake|
|Swing||Make an obstacle course|
|Zip-Line||Draw- while seated, while laying on stomach, or while laying on back under a table and drawing on paper|
|LIMIT SCREEN TIME||LIMIT SCREEN TIME|
In conclusion, schedule play into your child’s day. Any opportunity that you can engage creatively with them will increase and foster development. However, children playing on their own fosters independence and problem-solving. Don’t be afraid of the ‘b’ word. Boredom is beneficial for the brain as boredom sparks creativity. If you would like to read more about play and how it enhances learning, click on the links below. These are the references that were used.