Children need to play

An interesting article by Lenore Skenazy in the Wall Street Journal landed in my inbox over the weekend "The Importance of Child's Play." The very first paragraph caught my attention, but  the second scared me. I posted the first two below, please visit the WSJ website for the full article.

A new study of how preschoolers spend their days may make you want to run around screaming, which is apparently more than the tykes themselves get to do. After interviewing child-care providers from 34 very different Cincinnati-area centers—urban to suburban, Head Start to high income—researchers found that kids spend an average of only 2% to 3% of their day in "vigorous activities."

Can you imagine that? Children spending 97% of their day not running around? It's like a desk job, except with cookie time. Excuse me—apple time. When you consider that three-quarters of American kids aged 3 to 5 are in some kind of preschool program and a lot of them come home only to eat, sleep and go back again, this is beyond sad—it's bad. Bad for their bodies, their brains, their blubber. Baddest of all are the reasons behind this institutionalized atrophy: The quest for ever more safety and education.

The article quotes pediatrician Kristen A. Copeland who writes "Injury and school readiness concerns may inhibit children's physical activity in child care," in a study that is set to be published in the February issue of the Journal for the American Academy of Pediatrics, and is already available online. That got me looking a little more and while I have not gotten through the entire article, I read the abstract that concludes with:

Societal priorities for young children—safety and school readiness—may be hindering children’s physical development. In designing environments that optimally promote children’s health and development, child advocates should think holistically about potential unintended consequences of policies.

Are we, as a society, not allowing children to play enough? Are we too scared that our children will get hurt or not score high enough on standardized tests? 

I would love to hear your thoughts. Add yours by clicking the Post a Comment link below.



Post by Jeffrey Pomranka
Director of Enrollment