Saturday, August 14, 2010

Is Unstructured Play really "Valuable"?

Can I just say, "Sa-weet!!!"

I just found an article, (that my mom sent to me barely two months after my first child was born), titled: "Lack of Unstructured Play May Be Hurting Children." (Deseret News, 2002)

Love it.
SO... I don't need to feel guilty pushing my kids outside everyday and encouraging them to become so bored that they have to create their own entertainment, while numerous girlfriends around me are planning and executing huge excursions daily to provide stimulating, educational experiences for their young children.
Here are some good quotes from the article:

"Everything about children's lives these days seems to be so serious, and play looks like it's not valuable enough."

"... experts are concerned that growing numbers of parents believe unstructured play is just a waste of time, despite decades of research showing that it is a crucial foundation for developing creativity, intellect and emotional and social skills."

"... children spend time watching television and playing video games... time in structured sports has doubled... the amount of homework increased dramatically..."

"Children need to be able to take a break, just like adults."

"Children who spend lots of time in front of a TV or computer may be unable to play well on their own."
(I notice this with my son. His brain truly seems different even after only 1/2 hour "on" the wii). Afterwards, he just plops himself around, waiting for me to entertain him. Otherwise he is actively finding things to do. It's interesting!)

"... families are much too focused on trying to teach children concrete memory-based things, like their letters... those things are important, but memorizing doesn't teach you to think. Play -- what we call 'floortime,' which is getting on the floor and being imaginative with your children -- that is what teaches your child to be creative. It teaches them to think."

(Of course this is an opinion- there are also numerous, very convincing arguments on the other side!  My two older kids just started piano lessons, and I can't wait for soccer, gymnastics, and track to start!! - not even to mention s-c-h-o-o-l!!!)

1 comment:

The Randalls said...

Hi Liz!
I'm just catching up and seeing what you guys are up to. We're loving Iowa City and residency so far. I had to comment on this unstructured play blog...I totally think it's valuable that kids know how to figure out something interesting or fun to do! There are so many times in life where they have to "wait" or be patient for adults, and if they know how to entertain themselves or think of interesting things while waiting, it keeps them out of trouble! I think you and I are a lot of like in many ways. :)