Here’s something we hear a lot these days: kids need to play outdoors more. But what about children who don’t live in safe neighborhoods? What about children from economically disadvantaged families, whose parents
must spend long hours working just to ensure the day-to-day survival of the family, and who may be to exhausted, or too stressed, to play with them or to supervise their playtime?
In a new report published in the journal Pediatrics, authors Regina Milteer and Kenneth Ginsburg recognize that the complex interplay of social, economic and cultural factors underpinning the gradual disappearance of playtime from children’s lives defies easy solutions, but they warn that solutions need to be found fast, as children in low-income families are being left at risk of missing important learning and development that happens only through play.
Play, both the structured kind and the creative, unstructured unvariety, is critical to children’s healthy development of mind, body and social competence. During play within the family, understanding and bonding between parents and children is deepened; as well, play helps children learn to negotiate and resolve conflicts with their peers, leading to important lessons in empathy and cooperation. Yet, as Milteer and Ginsburg point out in The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bond: Focus on Children in Poverty, in our society’s drive to ensure and increase academic success across the socio-economic spectrum, playtime is too often sacrificed in favour of more formal educational encounters. Read More…