As children head back to school and all that entails – early mornings, busy school days, homework, sports, and the multitude of extracurricular activities that are a part of most children’s lives – remember to let them play!
Children need time away from the demands of structured activities to pursue their fancies, dabble in delights and socialize with friends. They need to exercise their bodies, follow their own rules, work out disagreements and smell the roses. They need to fantasize and create masterpieces of their own design. They need to be given time and space to fully be themselves, to laugh, dangle their toes in the water, chase butterflies, or just lay in the grass and look at the sky.
Let them dream and let them create. The dreamers and creators of today are the inventors and designers of tomorrow. Encourage experimentation, getting messy, tinkering and wiling away the afternoon. Make play as important as any other endeavor, perhaps more so. Amid the hurried lives we lead, we must encourage our children to slow down, enjoy the moment, get to know themselves and trust in who they are, not in who
think they should be.
Long school days, hours of homework, swim lessons, piano lessons, tutoring, organized sports – it’s exhausting just to think about. We often expect children as young as five to go to school all day, go learn a sport, have a music lesson and do homework all in the same day. A growing body of research shows that children’s hurried lives, although well intended, may be causing more harm than good.
As the last vestiges of summer fade into the rigors of back to school, remember that play is vital to children's well-being all year long. Get out there and play!