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A Prescription for Play

By Sandra Whitehead


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N: 0in 0in 0pt">How do we encourage more free play in our kids’ lives? Educators, child-development experts and parents offer this advice:


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N: 0in 0in 0pt">• Make time for downtime. Put it on your schedule if you have to! Lie on the grass with your kids and examine the clouds, play a game of hide-and-seek. Show your children that you, too, value downtime.


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N: 0in 0in 0pt">• Resist peer pressure from other parents to overschedule your child in sports or after-school classes. Limit kids to one or two extracurricular activities a week.


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N: 0in 0in 0pt">• Play with your child. Pull out the blocks, a board game, dolls or toy cars, and get down on the floor to play.


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N: 0in 0in 0pt">• Play with your baby. Make funny faces, sing and dance around the room.


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• Get your kids outside as much as possible. Take them to a park or playground. Go on nature scavenger hunts in your back yard.


 


• Keep infants and toddlers away from computer, video and TV screens as long as possible.



In his new book, Parenting Without Fear, psychologist Paul Donahue, Ph.D., suggests some basic toys to promote independent thinking and imaginative play in kids, including blocks, action figures, dolls and dress-up clothes; empty boxes, old blankets, a laundry basket and other makeshift household items; music recordings for kids to dance or sing along with; and a ball, jump rope and sidewalk chalk to use in devising their own games.



Return to Child's Play: What Has Happened to Playtime, and Should We Be Worried About It?


 


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