Tag Archives: free play for children

Give Your Kids the Gift of Free Play (Pam Lobley)

Author Pam Lobley shares why free play is so important for children, plus some ways to create more of it. We present, “Give Your Kids the Gift of Free Play.”

…………………………

Give Your Kids the Gift of Free Play, Pam LobleyChildren’s lives these days are often planned down to the minute. They go from school to after-care to sports or dance. They take music lessons or participate in scouting. They have homework. Even weekends (especially weekends!) can be jammed with tournaments, practices, and tutoring.

How It Used to Be

Not surprisingly, free play for school-age kids has all but disappeared. Decades ago, it was the only kind of play there was. Kids went outside and played with whatever and whomever was in their neighborhood until it was time to come home for dinner. No one worried if they were improving themselves through lessons or skill building; they were simply expected to play.

In our crazy ‘get ahead’ world, we think our kids will be better off with lots of classes, camps, sports and other types of enriching activities. But studies are now showing how important free play is for our children. It is, in fact, a key part of their healthy development and social skills. Free play teaches flexibility and problem solving. It allows children independence, and teaches them negotiation and compromise as they make up rules to their own games and then have to play by them.

Some Free Play Ideas

Why Can't We Just Play. Pam LobleyIf you children seem whiny, combative, anxious or even just tired, it could be a sign that they are burned out on activities and need to just play. Here are some free play ideas you can easily incorporate into your busy lifestyle.

Seek a daycare or camp offering free play. When you choose a daycare or camp for your children, try to pick the one with the least structure and the most recess. Make sure they have time to make up games on their own, or play in a free-form way (remember “Red Rover” or “Freeze Tag?”). They should be able to play without adults making the teams, calling the shots and deciding the rules.

Teach Them Games You Played. If they’re having trouble figuring out what to play, teach them games you played: House, Cops and Robbers, Capture the Flag, etc. They can play these at a park or in a backyard. Show them the game, but then let them play on their own with their friends or siblings. If you need to be nearby for safety reasons, fine, but don’t interfere with their games. Playing on their own is what gives them independence.

Don’t be afraid to do NOTHING! It might feel weird to have an empty Saturday afternoon, but resist the temptation to run off to the movies or a museum. Sometimes a little boredom is just what kids need to get creative and invent something, or unwind and daydream. When they race from one thing to the next, their minds never get bored enough for this.

Enforce “unplugged” time. They can’t get bored enough to daydream or invent if they are always on their phone or playing a video game. You may have to bear some loud wails of protest, but if you can establish that there are certain times of the day when screens are not allowed, they will eventually accept it and cope by thinking of something else to do.

Do not attach a value to their play. In other words, pretending to be Spiderman for an afternoon is just as good for them as batting practice. As Einstein said:

Imagination is more important than knowledge.

Our children spend so many hours a day in the pursuit of knowledge – letting them cultivate imagination is a gift.

Essential to Happiness

Learning to entertain themselves, and to function in situations when things aren’t going their way, is an essential part of your child’s happiness. Free play will teach this, and they’ll have fun, too. ###

Pam Lobley is an experienced writer, having written comedy, plays, newspaper columns, blogs and books. This article features her book, Why Can’t We Just Play? It’s about the importance of free play in a child’s life, written as a sweet and funny memoir of a special summer she spent “doing nothing” with her kids. Learn more about Pam’s work at her website [link].

 

“Why We Created a ’50s Summer” (Guest: Pam Lobley)

The Changing Behavior NetworkDo loving parents sometimes keep their children so busy that the youngsters are deprived of the opportunity to exercise their imagination and spontaneous energies in play, the sort play that truly is its own end? This program features guest author Pam Lobley; it looks into this question and provides some valuable insights. The Changing Behavior Network presents, “Why We Created a 50s Summer.”

………………………………

Pam Lobley, Why We Created a 50s SummerJust about every parent fears doing or not doing something that would put their child at a disadvantage. As as result, it’s common for parents to involve their children in groups, classes, programs and activities that enlighten and enrich their sons and daughters toward a competitive advantage. At very least, they want their children to keep pace with the others.

The Pace is the Problem

But sometimes the pace is the problem. Is it possible our children can be doing so much and be involved in so many good activities that the spontaneity of simply being kids wastes away unnoticed? Pam Lobley, our guest author on this program, thinks so. The issue of today’s children having little time for free play and just plain fun inspired her to write Why Can’t We Just Play? What I Did When I Realized My Kids Were Way Too Busy (Familius).

“Why Can’t We Just Play?”

In the book, Pam combines insight and humor to tell of plans for the summer when her boys were 10 and 8. In considering the overflowing menu of activities that could be crammed into those few weeks, one son blurted, “Why can’t we just play?” That question made so much sense it was decided the boys would do nothing … literally. It would be a time for them to play to their hearts’ content and enjoy the freedom of no binding schedules for that summer.

In fact, the whole family become involved in making it a summer from the 1950s!

Why Can't We Just Play, Pam LobleyA 1950s Summer!

In this interview, Pam discusses their ’50s summer, including the impact on friends and acquaintances as she informed them of their plans. She acknowledges how there was some risk involved in “going against the flow,” yet how, on balance, the memories their family created that summer have endured.

Pam Lobley

Pam Lobley is an experienced writer, having written comedy, plays, newspaper columns, blogs and books. The book being featured on this program, Why Can’t We Just Play? is her most recent one, a sweet and funny memoir of that summer she spent “doing nothing” with her kids. (27:41)

www.pamlobley.com

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Link as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK


(START/STOP Audio)

BONUS: Here’s an excellent, free resource from Pam. It’s a reference guide to suggested fun and playful activities parents can do with their children. Many of these go back to a “simpler time,” and that’s good! Download the PDF immediately and for free HERE.