Campus News

Young children need play time

A full after-school schedule may keep your children occupied, but it’s not necessarily the healthiest option. It turns out children need a little unstructured “play time” for healthy development as well.

Research has shown that children can develop a lot of necessary skills, such as working with others and learning how to make decisions, through child-led or unstructured play time.

Parents should pay attention to cues such as their child’s stress levels during the school year, according to Diane Bales, a child development specialist with UGA Extension. When children go from school to T-ball practice to a youth group meeting and then to soccer camp all within a few hours’ time, they don’t get the needed break. Parents today feel pressure to enroll their kids in as many activities as possible, Bales said, most of it out of good intentions of wanting to expose their children to a variety of options. The key is to seek balance. Structured activities are fine within reason, but make time for individual or group play dates where children get to decide what to play.

When children play, they get to make all the decisions themselves, which is a valuable skill that they need to learn.