July 13th, 2016
WHY FREE PLAY IS THE BEST SUMMER SCHOOL
Most kids, if not all, cannot wait for school to end in June each and every year. They look forward to two long months of summer time with unscheduled and unsupervised playtime. However, some children will not benefit from free play as another set of scheduled and adult-supervised activities have been planned for them. But, a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) emphasizes the importance of free and unstructured play for children. It is critical to a healthy child development as it promotes cognitive, physical, social and emotional well-being of children and youth.
So, why is free play so essential? Here are a few reasons:
1. While playing freely, your child learns how to work collaboratively, share, negotiate, resolve conflicts, and stand up for himself. In free play, your child has control and practice asserting it.
2. Undirected play helps your child make his own decisions, move at his own pace, find out what he truly enjoys, and engage fully in his favorite activities.
3. As a parent, you have a wonderful opportunity to engage fully with your child who plays the role of the leader.
4. Child-driven activities allow your child to develop creativity, leadership, and group skills.
5. Social emotional learning is at play as peer interactions are a crucial element of free play.
Self-directed play and child-driven activities have a direct impact on self-regulation, which is recognized as the key to success both in school and in life. As a parent, one of the most essential tools you want your child to learn is self-regulation, which is the ability to monitor and control our own thoughts, behavior, and emotions so that we can modify them depending on the situation. Self-regulation is recognized as a competence for school readiness. Studies show that IQ and reading or math skills are not the best predictors of school readiness while early self-regulation is closely associated with later academic achievement. So, let your child have the opportunity to play freely over this summer so that he will be ready physically and mentally for a successful school year when he returns to school next month.
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As a parent and a therapist, I want to offer some tips on how to raise happy and healthy kids. Please feel free to comment on my posts.