Did you know unstructured play for kids is declining and the concept of play is being trivialized in favor of academic success (even in utero)? It’s our mission to help reverse this trend through our products, our contributions to play-related organizations, and by providing key resources, articles, downloads and more to help communicate the benefits of play and to make playtime with your family EASY and enjoyable.
The number one reason why we are not getting outside more - SAFETY concerns. But... The rate of child abductions has decreased over the past 20 years.
In addition to reduced play time, children are spending less time playing outdoors. From 1997 to 2003, there was a 50% decrease in the proportion of children nine to twelve who spent time in such outside activities as hiking, walking, fishing, beach play, and gardening, according to a study by Sandra Hofferth at the University of Maryland.
American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no TV before age 2. Why is this? It takes 2 full years for a baby's brain to develop to the point where the symbols on a screen come to represent their equivalents in the real world.
Toddlers who watch more TV have trouble paying attention at age 7.
Some children may actually prefer sitting and watching events unfold on television to playing outdoors and creatively thinking of ways to entertain themselves. (this is what happens when we don't teach the pleasures of play at an early age!)
It helps children pay attention. Research shows that children listen better in their classes after only a fifteen minute recess.
Social play teaches preschoolers to "play nice"--empathize with others and learn to regulate their own emotions and reactions. It helps them practice skills in a low-risk way--learning how to be assertive, work with others, and share.
Parents talk more to their babies while playing. In one study, parents used twice as many verbalizations and 10 times as many communicative gestures when playing with their 1-year-olds than when reading stories to them.
One study found that when children move while they are learning, they activate more parts of the brain than when they are sitting still in a teacher-directed lesson.
Play helps children develop their executive function--the ability to organize, focus, solve problems, and plan for the future.
Playing combines language, non-verbal problem solving and motor skills, which causes nerves that "fire together and wire together" and connects those different parts of the brain.
How to Be Playful with Your Baby
1. Belly Time - they may cry and resist but this is one of the best ways to develop core muscle strength so stick with it! Lay beside them to offer re-assurance and encouragement.
2. Stretch those legs and arms in and out - by manipulating their arms and legs, you help to develop their flexibility and spatial recognition.
3. Exercise balls - not just for parents! Once your child is strong enough to sit, you can put them on an exercise ball & tilt the ball back and forth - helps develop sense of balance, and core muscle strength.
4. Block Time - play peekaboo initially so they can develop a sense of object "permanence" - eventually they can grasp the blocks to develop fine motor skills, and stack and build, etc.
5. Dance Party- dancing with your baby is easy, and aids in developing their sense of balance, rhythm and listening skills.
6. Contrast colors and textures - hold high contrast objects (scarves, mobiles) in front of baby and have her track the objects & touch and feel various textures.
7. Musical symphony- clang together measuring cups or spoons - babies find sounds intriguing & this will help with her ability to track where the sounds are coming from.
8. Photo books! - Pictures help babies develop social skills as they love looking at expressions, emotions and various faces.
Expanded resources coming soon. Click to view our full Play Facts (PDF) »