Is Your Child Getting Enough Play Time?

How often does your child participate in physical play activities? Running, biking, playing dress-up and building with blocks – these are just some ways your child can engage their mind and body. Play time provides an opportunity for children to develop social skills and healthy habits for the future. If you are worried about your child’s activity level, read on to learn how to incorporate more play time.

Benefits of Active Play Time for Children

Children’s minds and bodies develop rapidly. Every minute of every day is an opportunity to learn and grow. Physical activities facilitate in that. Even something as simple as doing a puzzle by hand keeps your child’s mind active. This makes it easier to learn skills in the future. Play time sparks a child’s imagination. Children become more creative and more innovative with more play. Furthermore, active play helps a child learn social skills, such as making friends, communicating, sharing, taking turns, and other lessons that carry into adulthood. Simply put, play time helps a child prepare for life. It is something that should not be overlooked.

Study Shows 75% of Children Do Not Get Enough Play Time

According to a new study from The Genius of Play, 75% of children under the age of 12 are not getting enough active free play. This issue was most prevalent in the older age group, with 77% of 9-12 year-olds having a deficit in active play. When asked why their children did not get enough play time, parents often said that there was not enough time for physical activities.

Examples of Active Play

We encourage parents to limit their children’s screen times, especially if it means more time for active play. Examples of active play include:

  • Playing in backyard
  • Bike riding, roller skating, or skateboarding
  • Drawing on the driveway with chalk
  • Playing physical indoor games, such as putting on a play or doing a puzzle
  • Going on a walk as a family
  • Building forts
  • Playing dress-up or playing with action figures
  • Playing age-appropriate board games and card games
  • Participating in sports and extracurricular activities
  • Having play dates with peers
  • Playing at the park

There are countless ways to engage your child’s mind. Find solutions that work well for your lifestyle, your child’s age, and his/her overall interests.

How to Encourage More Play Time

If you want your child to play more, make that part of your daily schedule. Example: have your child play after school until shortly before dinner time. Allow sufficient time between play time and bedtime so your child has a chance to wind down. If you want your child to have some time for video games, reserve that for the weekends – after school work is complete.

If your child is used to limited play time, you may go through a transition period. Your child may complain about having to go outside or do something new, but ultimately this will become a ‘new normal’ for the household. Make sure to lead by example. Participate in play time with your child, and showcase other forms of physical activity. If you’re persistently on your phone or watching TV, your child will want to do the same.

For more personalized advice on how to encourage play time for children, contact Heron Ridge Associates for family counseling.  

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