Liz Pearce, Director of Parent Engagement
Children’s Museum of Richmond
The summer time gives us a wonderful opportunity to revisit a crucial part of childhood - Play. In fact, today is a great day to take 20 minutes and play with your child. Throughout childhood, our kids should be encouraged to pretend, imagine, act and daydream.
When children are pretending to be a teacher, firefighter, mommy or daddy, they are forming the building blocks of many developmental skills that are needed throughout their lives. At the earliest stages, playing pretend encourages problem solving and expressive language skills.
However, our children today don’t have as much time for free play. "Since about 1955 ... children's free play has been continually declining, at least partly because adults have exerted ever-increasing control over children's activities," says author Peter Gray, Ph.D. And it’s a known fact that our children today don’t play as much as we did when we were growing up. Even if you were born in the 80s or 90s, our kids today don’t have as much time for free play.
But play is needed – now more than ever. Free play is a time when children can control their own actions, make and follow their own rules, and solve their own problems. Some studies point to more anxiety and depression in children as a result of less time for play. According to researchers
Whether it’s peek-a-boo, dress-up, firefighting, talking on the telephone, feeding your stuffed animals, making forts, shaving like Daddy, or setting up a pretend grocery store – make it a point to make time for PRETEND!