Schools are starting up, but has your child played enough this summer? (Plugged in play doesn’t count!)
Unstructured time is essential to a child’s well-being. That’s a fact, although unfortunately, statistics show that playtime has declined for a number of childhood age groups. Today’s kids tend to be over-programmed and over-structured.
So before the first day of school, give your child the gift of time to play. Toss her a football. Challenge him to a race around the block. Encourage her to climb a tree.
Play is such a good teacher.
Both “Cutters” and “Nevers” are cable-free households, but kids in all kinds of households are glued to screens this summer.
Looking at screens, not reading books, have become the default activity. Research shows children are spending an average of five hours on electronic devices everyday.
Five hours: just imagine how many trees a child could climb, pictures she could draw or times he could cannonball into a pool in that amount of time.
Invite your screen-addicted child to quit binge watching and return to the physical world: check out a board game from the library.
Home based activities and entertainment continue to reflect the shift toward nostalgia. Having fun at home, which has been trending for a number of years, continues this summer.
If your kids are spending the summer gaming, take a tip from your child’s classroom teacher: suggest game-based learning.
Game developers have learned how to weave a fictional story-line underneath facts. Although some content takes liberties with history or other facts, gaming can expose kids to people and places they’d never discover on their own.
After playing, perhaps they’ll even want to dig deeper about Ancient Rome or the Pony Express!
Real time updates on new platforms mean parents have more ways to hover over their camper.
Both day and overnight programs have upped the number of quick updates that go home.
Photos and videos of campers and their activities sent home throughout the day are easy to forward to long distance friends and relatives, too.
Statisticians and social historians continue to say that parents of young children are incorporating unstructured play into their child’s lives.
I wish that were true, but around me, I even see preschoolers jumping between programs, organized activities and camps.
I believe moms and dads will need to be more intentional about raising independent, self-reliant children before schedules loosen up. That surely isn’t happening this summer.
Research consistently supports the importance of family mealtime. Benefits include healthier eating and children who learn vocabulary, have fewer behavior problems and lower substance abuse.
But dinnertime disruptions – in the form of sports and/or tech – continue to impact this important time of day.
If kids are active in sports, attendance is mandatory at games and practices. There aren’t a lot of options.
But there are real choices when it comes to tech. Do your kids a favor: turn off the TV and leave the phone in another room. Researchers have documented that even the mere presence of a phone diminishes the quality of conversation.
Devices remain an unwelcome dinner guest.