Why Free Play Is the Best Summer School

By NEA Healthy Futures

By NEA and NEA HIN staff

Summer is officially here, and most schools across the nation have marked the end of another academic year.

For many kids, the coming of summer signals little more than a seasonal shift from one set of scheduled, adult-supervised lessons and activities to another.

But the more time children spend in these structured, parent-guided activities, the worse their ability to work productively towards self-directed goals.

Unscheduled, unsupervised playtime is one of the most valuable educational opportunities we give our children. It is fertile ground; the place where children strengthen social bonds, build emotional maturity, develop cognitive skills, and shore up their physical health.

The value of free play, daydreaming, risk-taking, and independent discovery have been much in the news this year, and a new study by psychologists at the University of Colorado reveals just how important these activities are in the development of children’s executive functioning.

Families can help children's learning readiness by encouraging free play this summer. Even better: playtime that incorporates physical activity helps kids get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity a day!

Tell us: do you believe free play is important to children's learning readiness and health?

This post is cross-posted from the NEA HIN blog.

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