Finding Time for Play

“Our 11-year-olds are…less “intelligent” than their counterparts of 30 years ago.” These are the findings of one meticulous study in England.  Researchers say that both general intelligence and specific understanding of scientific concepts have declined.

Youngsters don’t get outside for hands-on play in mud, sand and water — and sandpits and water tables have been squeezed out in many primary schools by a relentless drilling of the three Rs.

The level of cognitive stimulation has been reduced and the natural way that God created children to learn has been replaced by rote memorization, drill and tests, tests, tests.  Our kids need to spend time to playing.  Play is a child’s work, it’s one of the ways that God designed children to learn.

How do we encourage and make time for our children to play, to explore the world that God created for them and to learn in more thorough and complex ways than can ever be duplicated in a classroom?

Prioritize  play

Making play time a regular part of your child’s life is simple if you realize it’s importance.   We try to schedule  at least a couple hours of free time into every day and make sure that we don’t give the children so many ‘assignments’ that they don’t have the opportunity to take it.

Limit extracurricular activities

Some kid’s schedules are so packed with extracurricular activities that they have little, if any, time for free play.  Limiting outside activities will not only benefit family relationships, but will create more time for a child to play.

Limit or eliminate computer/video games

Playing a video or computer game, even one that requires the child to be ‘active’, is not the same as a child going outside and being active.

Allow your children to incorporate fun into daily tasks

Is your son making bubble mountains while washing the dishes?  Did your kids engage in a mud fight while scrubbing the deck?

Does your whole family jump into the leaf piles that you just raked?  These are perfect opportunities for children to explore the world around them.  (This is where I try to be a ‘yes mom‘ more often.)

Kick them out

Outside, that is.   Our children are outside every opportunity that they get.  When it’s cold they bundle up, when it’s hot they play in the water, when it’s raining they build shelters and work on stopping all the leaks.  Imaginations seem to soar when kids spend time outdoors.

Play with your children

A trip to the park, a walk around the neighborhood or a romp in the back yard, our favorite family memories are the times that we spend playing with our kids.  It doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy, just you, your children and time.

Play on vacation

While the highly scheduled, planned out and booked ahead vacations can provide fun and lots of new  opportunities,  we’ve come to appreciate a slower paced, less structured getaway.  We love tent camping or renting a house near the ocean.  Then we are able to spend the days playing and enjoying each other.

Relax

God created children with curiosity and inquisitiveness that makes discovering the world around them  joyful and natural.   Sometimes we just need to get out of the way and let them be loud, let them be brave,  let them get dirty, let them play!

How do you make time for your children to play?  What are some of your favorite family activities?

This post is sponsored by  SHOUT,  “play should get messy and SHOUT can help” and part of a compensated program with the Mom Bloggers Club.

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23 Responses to Finding Time for Play
  1. Theresa
    September 24, 2010 | 8:42 am

    Excellent post!!!! I was just sitting here wondering if my kids were keeping up with ps kids…I needed this!! Thanks!

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  2. DeAnn
    September 24, 2010 | 9:16 am

    Your post is right on target! I’m an elementary school counselor and play is so important, the kids can’t do that if they are over committed. We play at our house all the time. The best toys have been sidewalk chalk and a enclosed trampoline. They’ve made up great games and get exercise too. It is used daily and has been for nearly a year.

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  3. Rebecca
    September 24, 2010 | 9:41 am

    Loved this post. It is so true!
    I’m always amazed at what my kids can come up with to do if given the time, space and freedom. Yesterday, they dug a river with a beaver dam partway down and a lake at the end. Yes, water was added. Yes, they were DIRTY! Yes, I got pictures : ).

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  4. Elizabeth
    September 24, 2010 | 10:20 am

    Great post! This is one area I have always needed to work on. The kids say that dad is the “fun” one and mom is just mom. heehee They do good when they are outside and all that but for me to get out there (or in the house) with them is hard for me.

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  5. Jenny
    September 24, 2010 | 11:22 am

    Thank you for this reminder! I am not the “yes” mom very often as I tend to think of the dirt I’ll have to clean up or the mess that will ensue but I neeed the reminder that it is natural and wonderful creation the Lord has given us to learn:) Thank you again!

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  6. Renee
    September 24, 2010 | 1:48 pm

    This is an area I stuggle with. Not so much the play time because I have a 3 1/2 year old and 1 year old, they play alot inside, but the outside time. I grew up on a farm, spent 18 years growing, learning, working on our family farm. Loved every minute, want the same for our kids. Would love to have some land to grow a garden(if I could get the courage to go outside) Then I moved away to college and havent been the same since. I dont like being outside unless there is snow on the ground. If I go outside any other time I feel dirty and must shower when I come in(even if all I did was stand there). I am terrified of spiders and bees.(I run screaming when a bee gets near me) I think that has alot to do with it. My hubby takes the older boy outside when he can. I know my boys need to get outside and I want them too. We also have a very, very bad case of black widows in our yard(even with our dog). Hubby just sprayed our yard about a week ago and killed 4 on our deck alone. Any advice would be great. Thanks for this post.
    God bless

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    Momma Angel Reply:

    Kill Black Widows
    Due to their extreme overabundance (even one is too many), there are a number of pesticides on the market today that work well for killing black widow spiders. There are several different application methods too. There are treatments for outside the home, sprays for direct contact, dusts, and liquid spot treatments. For best results, I recommend using several, if not all, of these.

    For outside the home. Before filling foundation cracks and holes, apply something like Delta Dust Insecticide (active ingredient: deltamethrin) or Drione Dust (active ingredients: pyrethrins, piperonyl butoxide, and amorphous silica gel) to help avoid future invasions. For spraying trees, plants, and lawn, Spectracide Triazicide Insect Killer. Demand CS (active ingredient: lambda-cyhalothrin) is a good spray for outdoor foundations.

    Sprays for direct contact. If you’ve got one of the little nasties in your sights, hit ’em with a non-residual aerosol spray like 565 Plus XLO (active ingredient: pyrethrins) or CB-80 Extra Aerosol (also pyrethrins). They’re both safe to use and have a quick knockdown and kill time.

    Dusts. These work quite well for out-of-the-way places like basements, attics, wall voids, and crawl spaces. Look for products like Drione Dust and Delta Dust Insecticide (both mentioned above). EcoExempt D from the EcoSmart Company is a plant-based (hexa-hydroxyl) insecticidal dust.

    Liquid spot treatments. These are generally available in powder form and are mixed with water to be used as a residual spray. Demon WP Insecticide, Cynoff EC, and Cynoff WP (active ingredient: cypermethrin) all come highly recommended. Demand CS (see above) can also be used indoors as a spot treatment.

    http://www.howtogetridofstuff.com/pest-control/how-to-get-rid-of-black-widow-spiders/

    The above add, and the link are the two things I found on black widows, and how to get rid of them. We have them here too. Tho I usually find them under bushes, in tall grass, etc when I am doing my gardening, after neglecting it for a while. Truly the best solution seems to be just keeping everything clean, and sealed. I use Ortho indoor/outdoor Home defense MAX, a few times a year. Hope that helps!

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    Renee Reply:

    Thanks so much. It does help. We will look into these options.
    God bless

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  7. Linda
    September 24, 2010 | 3:37 pm

    Unsure if it is o.k. to comment everyday, but I AGREE! It’s so very true. We like taking family night walks and Nerf gun wars. During the winter months–igloo building. Hours and hours of fun!

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Commenting everyday gets you bonus points and makes me happy. 😉

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  8. Polly
    September 24, 2010 | 4:20 pm

    Ouch, you stepped all over my toes in this one, but in a good way!

    Thank you for the reminder that time with kids is supposed to have fun as one of the major ingredients. Too often I am in the “get things done” mode and forget to let them explore the great outdoors like I did when I was a kiddo.

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  9. MomStarr
    September 24, 2010 | 5:30 pm

    Eating beans for a snack. Ok, sorry I couldn’t resist.

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    😛

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  10. Amy
    September 24, 2010 | 11:38 pm

    What a wonderful reminder!!! Thank you for this post!

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  11. Annie @ Beauty In The Surrender
    September 25, 2010 | 7:23 am

    We have a lot of really nice state parks here in Ohio and even close by our home. Literally only 5- 15 minutes away! So we often go for hikes in the parks together and pack a lunch. This is our way of getting excercise, fun and family time all in one setting.

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  12. Becky
    September 25, 2010 | 11:58 am

    Dirt+water+little plastic animals= a couple hours of mommy time. When the kids are playing outside I get to do my bible study. I am close by but not in the mix. I love hearing the stories they come up with. I think free play also helps them keep their imaginations!

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  13. sprittibee
    September 25, 2010 | 2:32 pm

    Oh, that view! I wish I could find one like that around here. LOL

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  14. Renata
    September 27, 2010 | 5:54 am

    Yes – I totally agree! I’ve always felt free play is an important part of the childrens development – & outside play is essential!
    My kids climb/create/get dirty/ride bikes & just have plain, good, old-fashioned fun every day – I make outside time a priority (plus lets face it it’s a great time to catch up on the jobs like mopping the floor etc.)
    Great post – thanks
    Renata:)

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  15. aimee
    September 27, 2010 | 11:14 am

    I totally agree! I’ve always allowed my kids lots of free time to “just be kids”. We try to keep the extracurricular activities to a minimum too. We LOVE to play on vacation! This year we went to arizona and the kids had a blast climbing a mountain and exploring the wooded area by our cabin.

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  16. Heather
    September 27, 2010 | 3:04 pm

    yes yes yes ! Thank you for sharing. As a want to be homeschooling Mom and an *almost* certified teacher, I feel so sad looking at our school system and all of the teacher that dearly love their students, want to teach them well, but are stuck in tricky place by the system, the sheer number of students and their diverse needs, and the standards that are supposed to make education better .
    It’s part of why I want to homeschool more than ever. No wonder our schools are failing. The number of kids in public school increases each year at a rate faster than babies are being born in this country. This means that everything else equal, the majority of these students coming in are special needs because they are coming from ESL homes…so we have elementary classrooms with 25 + kids, a great majority of those having identifiable special needs, all of them having individual needs, and ONE teacher to do it all for them ( and remember she/he hasn’t raised them since birth…) Some of these kids NEED public school, they have parents that either cannot or will not give them what they need. For the rest of us, the ones that have resources to teach our own children, we are best serving them by bringing them home and giving them natural opportunities to learn, so that the over taxed school system can become that much less taxed and devote their “social services” to children that will not get that from home.

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  17. Deirdre
    September 27, 2010 | 10:36 pm

    Amen, sister once again! Hmm… about how our president says we need a longer school yr so we can compete better in the world. Less time to play, I thought. Playing outside is wonderful, but ever since one daughter nearly accidently touched a copperhead recently, I have been reluctant to send them into the bush.

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  18. Marla
    September 28, 2010 | 7:46 am

    We are right on the same page!All of this is so important for Children!So glad we are able to homeschool.I still remember as a Child staring out the window.I would long to be outside.Now my Children can be!The beauty of homeschooling.Blessings,Marla

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  19. Tootlee
    October 27, 2010 | 1:35 am

    We’ve been looking at this very theme recently–intelligence. Sir Ken Roberson has some fantastic videos on the subject of how current education styles are actually reducing at least certain types of intelligence in kids the longer they are in school. Sad…but very interesting to look at.

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