“Be careful!” “Not so high!” “Stop that!” Concerned parents can often be heard urging safety when children are at play.
Recent research suggests that this may be overprotective and that kids need more opportunities for risky play outdoors.
Risky play is thrilling and exciting play where children test their boundaries and flirt with uncertainty. They climb trees, build forts, roam the neighborhood with friends, or play capture the flag. Research shows such play is associated with increased physical activity, social skills, risk management skills, resilience, and self-confidence. Read more
Visit any preschool classroom during free play and you will likely see a child pretending to be someone else.
Make-believe play is a ubiquitous part of early childhood. And beyond being fun for kids, pretending and other kinds of imaginative play are also believed by some to be critical to healthy child development.
Research has found a relationship between pretend play and a child’s developing creativity, understanding of others, and social competence with peers.
As a psychologist who studies imaginary play and Read more
Being a kindergartner today is very different from being a kindergartner 20 years ago. In fact, it is more like first grade.
Researchers have demonstrated that 5-year-olds are spending more time engaged in teacher-led academic learning activities than play-based learning opportunities that facilitate child-initiated investigations and foster social development among peers. Read more
Summer is here, time for kids’ action adventure.
Reread that opening sentence. Did you think of movies released in the summertime?
Or did you think of the adventurous active pastimes that kids engage in during summer? Did you think of: Diving off the high diving board into the deep end of the swimming pool? Climbing toward a tall tree’s top and perching there for a while looking down at the world? Crawling in through the window of a homestead that nobody has lived in for years? Riding a bike with no hands on the handlebars down the steepest hill in the neighborhood? Read more
In January 2015, I moved to a small town in rural Denmark with my husband and two young sons. Only two weeks before, we’d moved from Somerville, Massachusetts, out of the only home our kids had ever known. Our life there had been relatively happy and satisfying: We lived within reasonable walking distance of a subway stop, a lovely Indian takeout place, a decent Mexican restaurant, a lovely bakery, the Tufts University campus, six parks, two groceries, and a beautiful walking path along the Alewife and Mystic Rivers. We had nice groups of friends from various stages of our adult lives scattered around the area, and we had a small, modest apartment with wonderful upstairs neighbors and a vegetable garden in the back yard. The Boston area had been good to us and I wasn’t exactly itching to leave. Read more
Stroll through your local playground on a summer day and take note of what’s missing: swings, seesaws, jungle gyms, and, all too often, children.
Whether kept indoors by structured activities, parental fears, or the allure of Xbox and air conditioning, kids today enjoy less free-range play than their parents. And given that the effects of play deprivation extend from ADHD to lack of empathy, carving out the time and space for play could be as important to future generations as protecting our wild spaces and natural resources.
Playgrounds are an important community partner in the fight for children’s right to play, but only if they can hold their own in a sea of other options. The first step? Battling the boring. Read more