Gone are the days of going outside to play, tossing a baseball or football in the cul de sac, and riding bikes for hours in the neighborhood. Scary stories about innocent children being abducted made us all nervous about the whereabouts of our kids, and the debut of fancy mobile devices and high-tech video games made outdoor fun seem a little lame.
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with the technology. I rely on it to work and also enjoy my Pinterest time in bed after hours. However, there is something magical about simply playing with others, and discovering the world with just your imagination.
And that’s what the Genius of Play campaign is all about. Kids need a variety of play options to develop into well-rounded adults. From running around the yard to enjoying arts and crafts or enjoying group games, these day-to-day interactions are actually experiences children will take with them in life…even if THEY don’t realize that.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children spend at least 60 minutes of open-ended play. Experts agree by teaching kids lessons and important life skills, play has a profound impact on childhood development. It improves cognitive abilities, hones communication skills, increases creativity, helps children process and express emotions, develops physical skills and enhances social skill.
Kids who play with literacy materials, like pretending to read to stuffed animals, have better languages abilities in kindergarten. Playing make-believe games is actually essential for kids who to develop a sense of curiosity and learn how to respond to different situations. Talking, singing, reading and playing are the best ways to stimulate children’s brain development.
There are dozens of surveys and studies about excessive use of technology for small children, but so far, I’m not seeing any disadvantages to good old-fashioned play time. These games are actually a fun teaching tool and interactive way you can engage with your kids.
And it doesn’t take a lot to do some of these activities. Whether the sun is shining or it’s pouring down raining outside, any day is perfect for play. Plus, with the weather cooling off, or at least it should in a few weeks, now is a perfect time to try out these fun games.
The hardest part of is probably going to be convincing your children to try out a new kind of unstructured fun and honestly making time each week with everything else you have going on. But it’s something that could have a life-changing impact on your child. Maybe you won’t see it immediately, but there will be long-term positive results, even if it’s nothing more than spending quality time with your family.
I didn’t grow up with any of fancy devices children have today. The fanciest thing we had was Fisher Price’s brown tape player and a Snoopy Snow Cone Maker. Still, I would like to believe that my development as an adult is directly related to the imaginative free play I had growing up. I made the most memories playing with my friend Shana at my grandparents’ backyard all summer, making four-course meals out of mud, grass and pecans.
Funny enough not much has changed except now I’m old enough to use the stove.