We’d like to share this article with you on the value of summertime play:
Get Outdoors and Play!
Take a leisurely walk or bike ride around many of our local neighborhoods on a sunny summer afternoon, and you may find yourself wondering, “Where are all the kids?”
For starters, many of them are in camp. More than ten million kids attend the country’s 12,000 day and sleep-away camps during a typical summer. Others are in school—nationwide, about 4% of children in over 3000 public schools in 46 states are in year-round schools. Still others are on an “are we there yet?” vacation with their parents. Nearly 40% of traveling adults will have children in tow with them this summer.
While many of these activities involve outdoor time, most will be adult-directed and far removed from the “free range childhoods” of yesteryear that trigger nostalgic memories for so many parents. But highly scheduled summers need not be without some good, old-fashioned cloud watching or tree climbing.
The many sights, sounds, smells, and textures of the outdoors make it a natural place for kids to explore and learn. The outdoor environment fits the exuberant physical and make-believe play instincts of most children. In fact, research indicates that young children engage in richer imaginative play outdoors than indoors because adults tend to control indoor play more closely, and many outdoor play materials like rocks and trees and leaves are more open-ended than indoor toys.
Another reason that outdoor play is so good for kids is that children often rearrange their social arrangements. This helps them develop the stronger social skills so central to success in school, because the nature of outdoor games and exploration offer children chances to break away from their regular alliances. The outdoors also eliminates the lure—for part of the day, at least—of overdependence on screen time (television and other electronic devices). And in a culture where one in five children is overweight, outdoor play can make a big contribution to children’s movement skills and physical fitness.
If you’re a parent worried about safety and wondering how you can fit outdoor play in an already jam-packed family schedule, here are som suggestions:
Think of the long summer days as fun time and family time. Why not give yourself several weeks of a lighter schedule? For a few short weeks, take things off the calendar rather than putting them on.
Remember that outdoor play does not require a playground or a park or an hour or a beautiful, sunshiny day. Put together a few outdoor activity ideas you can do in ten or twenty minutes. How about a vigorous session of jump rope? Watching clouds until they pass that tree over there? Making regular visits to a small area—say three square feet—of grass or sidewalk to monitor what’s happening in different weather or at different times of day? Above all, remember that there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.
Eliminate as much television time as possible—your child’s and yours—during the summer. Use that found time to soak in the fresh air, sunshine, and family togetherness.
Go ahead and give yourself permission to enjoy your kids. So what if the house is a mess?
Playing outdoors, with its ever-changing wonders, offer endless opportunities for kids to learn, grow, and develop healthy habits. Every day brings new surprises and another nook or cranny for kids to explore.
 Data from Wynn Tyree, President, Smarty Pants, LLC: http://www.asksmartypants.com
 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: School Healthy Index for Physical Activity and Healthy Eating (Elementary School): A Self-Assessment and Planning Guide.
Provided By Susan J. Oliver, Tropomedia
This information is provided on behalf of the toy experts at your neighborhood toy store.