As back-to-school season revs up, the focus of how children ought to spend their time begins to shift. Parents, teachers and other educators start to guide children of all ages to pay attention to schoolwork, which means less playtime and more technology. Many preschools have even gone high tech with the incorporation of iPads and electronic educational games in their pre-K classrooms.
Don’t get us wrong, we love technology and support its place in children’s lives and society. But, as occupational therapists, we strongly advocate for the benefits of play. Children, regardless of age, need to have playtime built into their busy schedules. AZ+A students object terribly every time we subject them to the cruel and unusual punishment of activities requiring pretend play, creativity and interacting with peers.
Okay, okay – you’re right, actually kids love playtime and it helps them thrive as healthy adults! This is why most AZ+A programs are play and relationship-based. Playing make believe, house or building the world’s coolest racetrack ever in the basement with your best friends teaches children intangible knowledge. Playtime is on the job training for being a grown-up. Well, perhaps it’s just a tad more fun than “real” adulthood. Shhh, don’t tell.
Our back-to-school suggestion? Start a new school year but don’t stop the fun. Keep time open for playing together as a family or for kids to play wth their friends. It’s equally important as team sports or other social activities for kids.