Anna: Many adults aren’t making the positive correlation between play and its developmental benefits because they think that they’re wasting time. But play is not only fun, it’s critical for physical, emotional, and cognitive well-being. The best way to teach values is through play. For example, empathy is an abstract idea for 5-year-olds. Through imaginative play with dolls and stuffed animals, 5-year-olds learn empathy and kindness, how to take care of others, and how to incorporate this new concept into their daily life. Play is a tremendous opportunity to influence how today’s kids will turn out as adults.
Anna: This is a ho topic and there's a lot of research around recess. The Genius of Play works to bring more play to each child’s life and recess is one form of play. Our communications are designed to educate parents, teachers, and caregivers around the importance of play. Advocating for recess in schools is our way of supporting the social, cognitive, emotional, and interpersonal learning that happens naturally when kids play.
Amber: How can parents combat the dwindling recess time at school?
Anna: We encourage parents to allocate time for play outside of the school day -- right after school, at home, or at the park. We surveyed parents and asked what the biggest barrier to play was, and they overwhelmingly responded: “Time.” The reality we face is that American households are often filled with two exhausted parents working full-time. Adults have this notion that play has to be this elaborately planned experience, but play can happen any time and any where. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children get at least 60 minutes of play each day, but play can be broken into smaller more manageable time periods. In fact, daily activities -- like setting the table, riding in the car, sorting laundry -- can incorporate creative play. We at The Genius of Play believe that if adults are mindful, they can enjoy so many opportunities to be playful and engage with kids.
Anna: First it’s important to become informed and armed with research and facts. Look online! We recommend that parents start with our website: www.GeniusOfPlay.org, where they can view research supporting the benefits of play, expert advice and play ideas.. Second, know that you can’t do it alone. Get support from other like-minded parents. There’s real power in numbers. Once you have the facts and the support, talk with your child’s principal. Focusing your energy on reinstating or extending the current recess time is a great place to start. If you’re faced with a county-wide policy, your local school board is the best place to try to push system-wide reforms. It will take time but it’s important to be persistent and advocate for what you believe in.
Our communications are designed to educate parents, teachers, and caregivers around the importance of play.
Currently, many school systems are structured in opposition to the mounting evidence that supports increased play as a part of holistic child development. Anna pointed out: “Today kids in U.S. play less than generations before -- 8 hours a week less than 20 years ago.” If play is not happening as readily at schools, parents are the key to ensuring that play happens at some point throughout the day. She continued, “It’s frustrating that we need a movement. Ideally kids would just play and we wouldn’t have this problem.”