• American College of Pediatrics Report Offers a Fun Solution for Childhood Development

    In an era of children experiencing over-programming, early specialization in sports, and excessive competition, the American Academy of Pediatrics’ The Power of Play report encourages pediatricians to reintroduce play and playful learning back into familes’ daily routine. It is an instruction that the Association believes is urgent enough to warrant written prescriptions from doctors to households.

    With a 29% rise in test preparation initiatives and a 30% drop in recess activity, kindergarten classrooms afford little to no time for play or choice time. Likewise, home environments are increasingly confining children indoors and to screen time. A recent report by Common Sense Media concluded that 98% of children under 8 years old now have access to a mobile device at home, with the average time spent on all sources of screen media exceeding two hours a day with mobile devices exposure exceeding television screen time.

    The Power of Play study argues that free play reduces stress, promotes social skills, and stimulates cognitive growth in young children. When engaging in developmentally appropriate play with parents and peers, it is an opportunity to promote the social-emotional, cognitive, language, and self-regulation skills that support healthy childhood development. Play supports the formation of safe, stable, and nurturing relationships with all caregivers that children need to thrive. And in the event that nurturing relationships are absent from a child’s life and adversity is present, play becomes even more important. The mutual joy, shared communication, and attunement (harmonious serve and return interactions) that parents and children can experience during play regulate the body’s stress response.

    At a time when early childhood programs are pressured to add more instructive components and less playful learning, pediatricians are being emboldened by this new report to champion a balanced curriculum that includes the importance of playful learning for the promotion of healthy child development.

    According to Dr. Mark Rothschild, Founder of Right At School, “Leaving children to their own devices means they plan, organize, negotiate, and make decisions.  What is great about unstructured free play is that children develop new abilities that build their self-confidence.  When children create and play games with others (without our precise rules and expected outcomes), their autonomy blossoms.”

    Right At School’s after school programs take great care to integrate free play with structured activities utilizing a curriculum that is designed to balance structure and choice, guidance and freedom.  Like most after school program providers, Right At School has academic and enrichment objectives to achieve. What makes Right At School different is that they never forget that both at school and at home, kids love to be kids and free play means self-discovery, self-reliance, and self-confidence.  As part of the Genius of Play movement, Right At School has several field team members who have been selected as 2018-19 National AfterSchool Association Play Ambassadors.  “Play is so important to the overall development of every child,” said Mike Perrin, Implementation Manager and Play Ambassador at Right At School. “Play is essential to building creativity, empathy, self-discovery, and problem-solving.”

    Speaking of free play, mark your calendars for September 29, 2018. It is World Wide Day of Play! Celebrate by closing your screens and engaging in play for the day!