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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The Importance of Unstructured Summer Playtime for Kids

July is a time for beautiful weather and long summer days. For most of us, our kids are home from school on summer vacation. Some have gone to overnight camps, day camps, summer sports, or summer arts clubs. Some are taking over their backyard, taking trips to the library, or hitting the local playground. No matter where they are, kids should be using this free time to play and explore. There's been a lot of talk about whether summer vacation from school is a bad idea, but I'm of the opinion that the unstructured time and break from school schedules is really important for children. I'm sure my girls agree! I've collected a few reasons why this unstructured time is important.

Play Benefits All Aspects of Development

I've spoken many times on this blog about why play is beneficial to a child's physical, emotional, and intellectual development. These important and proven reasons are at the foundation of why a few weeks break from school to add more freedom and playtime to a child's life is beneficial in the long run. Of course education is important, but we need to make sure our kids don't forget how to play and aren't deprived of opportunities to explore and experience the unique ways play allows children to develop.

Summer Play Promotes Non-Traditional Learning

Children don't have to be in a classroom to learn: There are plenty of play experiences that can be made educational. Children playing outside can discover new plants, animals, and bugs while exploring the world around them. Summer also gives kids time to learn more skills and explore new hobbies. It's the perfect season to learn how to swim or ride a bike! Your child might also take part in a camp that provides traditional learning as well as opportunities for socialization and team-building.

Kids Need to Learn to Handle Boredom

Kids getting bored over summer break may not sound like something positive, but boredom is a part of life, and it's beneficial for kids to learn how to deal with it. We know that kids can get into trouble when they're bored, but with a little guidance from you, they can learn how to create their own play and make boredom more constructive. Getting bored prompts kids to get creative and use their imagination. The boundless free time summer offers creates the situation, and kids have to rise to the occasion and make the most of their free time.

Play Provides an Emotional Reset

Kids have a lot of new experiences as they're growing up, and these experiences can take a while to process. The free time offered by summer vacation is a chance for children to relax, deal with their emotions, and process memories. Summer cues children to be relaxed, at ease, and content. They have much more space and capacity to deal with negative emotions during this time.

To take away summer vacation and replace it with year-long schooling might sound educationally responsible, but I believe that depriving children of their summer reset would be detrimental to their development. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

1 comment:

  1. I believe children need unstructured time to learn to think by them selves and to deal with surprises on the way and to make decisions without adults rules and impositions.