“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The level of cognitive stimulation has been reduced and the natural way that God created children to learn has been replaced by rote memorization, drill and tests, tests, tests.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?
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.
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.