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Why Children Need Play and How to Prioritize Play in a Busy World

As an adult, I can trace my greatest successes and most engaging hobbies to time I spent playing as a child. Why do children need play? Playing helps children experiment, test hypotheses, and process experiences. Through play, children learn how to focus, and they develop social and emotional intelligence. Today I’m sharing a few things we can do as parents to prioritize play in a busy world.

As an adult, I can trace my greatest successes and most engaging hobbies to time I spent playing as a child. Learn why play is so important, and how to prioritize play in a busy modern world.

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Children Need Play! Learn How to Prioritize Play in a Busy World

I spent my early childhood playing on my grandfather’s corn farm. I was unschooled before unschooling was popular! Those years of unstructured time to explore the world transformed my life forever. My own children go to school, and I find myself carefully guarding their time to make sure they have the opportunity for unstructured play. Here are some ways we prioritize play:

I am a HUGE fan of parents playing with their children, but this comes more easily to some parents than others. Some children are also much better at setting up and initiating play than others. Some parents have lots of ideas of ways to play, while others struggle with knowing where to start. This is why resources like The Undeniable Power of Play are so valuable! Available as a Kindle ebook or in PDF format, this book features fabulous hands-on experiential learning activities for young children. I recommend picking the PDF format, since it can still be read on Kindle and there are printables at the end of the book.

The Undeniable power of play - a tremendous research-based resource for parents and early childhood educators.

Why would I recommend the structure of a book in a post about the importance of unstructured play? Resources like this get us un-stuck, and they are tremendously helpful for both parents and children who might not have that natural affinity for unstructured play.

The activities in this book use household items, and they are sure to engage any young child. They set the stage for play, without directing its outcome.

What are your favorite playful activities for children? Here are some that are always a hit with my kids!

What are your favorite playful activities for littles?

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MaryAnne lives is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

9 thoughts on “Why Children Need Play and How to Prioritize Play in a Busy World”

  1. Elisa | blissful E

    Your list is what we use as well for indoor open-ended play, and I would add light, movable furniture and dress-up clothes to the list. So important for kids to have time to play. Even as homeschoolers, there are a LOT of opportunities we forego in order to keep free, unstructured play a priority. People skills and true creativity cannot be generated from a worksheet or artificial environment.

  2. I love how you advocated for free-play and illustrated its importance. I love the concept of unschooling and am so grateful that it’s becoming increasingly prevalent. Thank you so much for featuring our book too! It means the world <3

  3. I am sad that my daughter does not play as much as I would like her to. She spends a lot of time reading or exploring topics of her interest on the computer. I make a conscious effort to encourage her to get outside every day for at least an hour to play with other kids who live on our street.

  4. I love this article! I see play as a huge part of my children’s development. I love to send them outside. They rarely say “I’m bored!”. They come up with the most creative things! I need to get out there and play with them more often! :)

  5. Stroller Silver Cross

    Yes indeed, children need to play outside. Now a day lot of children often busy with their gadget or smartphone. As a result, their social interest with surround become passive. In my hometown, some parent has give their toddler as toys, or showing a funny videos when the kids crying. It gave negative effect of society IMHO.

    Nice Share, will back to read more from your blogs. Thanks

  6. So true! Well said – and I agree with the examples of play materials you suggest! I think it’s also important to acknowledge aloud that sitting down and playing with our children does not come naturally for all of us… as adults, we have to “re-learn” how to play, in a sense.
    Thanks for a great post!
    – Ayelet from Strength In Words

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