The Power of Play. I’m beginning to realize the importance of those words more and more.
Every spring, my mailbox and inbox are overflowing with information on the different camps and activities available to my kids during the summer. There is so much pressure to ‘sign up early to ensure your spot’ and offers of early bird discounts. I am overwhelmed by the amount and variety of summer camps available to kids today. Theatre camp, gymnastics camp, dance camp, horse-back riding camp…the list goes on and on and ON! You can literally schedule your child out to be in something almost every hour of every day in the summer. And the school year is getting to be like that, too. Your child can be in school all day long and then have an extracurricular practice after that…just in time to go home, eat something, do homework, and go to bed. Let me ask you this—where is the time to just PLAY? And to enjoy being a kid? You’re only a kid once. You will never again in your life have the freedom and flexibility to ‘just play.’ You have your whole adult life to be on a ‘schedule.’
Don’t misunderstand me…I’m not saying that your child should not be in any summer camps or extracurricular activities. On the contrary, I think kids can learn a lot from experiencing those things. But I am just fearful that we, as parents, are over scheduling our kids so much that they (and we) are forgetting about the “Power of Play.”
As a child, I don’t remember being in half of the camps my kids are in…or ANY for that matter. In the summer time we played kickball with the neighborhood kids. We went to the park. We swam in the lake. For one, my parents couldn’t afford to send all three of their kids to numerous camps throughout the summer…but for two, I don’t know that we would have wanted to! We were perfectly content playing outside with our friends and enjoying just being kids…and not having to be at a certain place at a certain time. Just taking each day as it came. If we felt like going to the beach one day…then we did. If we felt like just staying home and building a fort out of bed sheets or setting up the tent in the backyard…then we did that, too. It was nice not to have a “schedule.”
The Power of Play. It taught us to use our imaginations. To learn how to share and take turns. To problem-solve. We didn’t need a camp to teach us those things. We didn’t need a counselor to lead us. We didn’t need our parents to spend hundreds of dollars. We learned those things through the Power of Play.
This summer, I (Mrs. Mom) decided to take a break from all the running around. Yes, I did sign my kids up for a few church camps…but the majority of the summer this year is going to be reserved for play. I believe moderation is the key. Like I said, I think there are many benefits to the activities available out there to kids…but I don’t believe they should have such a rigid schedule this summer that they don’t have time to ‘stop and smell the roses,’ so to speak. Remember…you’re only a kid once.
I recently heard a very wise man say that “some of the best athletes in this country come from playgrounds. “ As kids, they weren’t at camps or competitions being drilled on how to play ball. Instead, they were out on the playground…playing with their friends…and having fun. They didn’t need to spend hundreds of dollars to learn the game. They just need to play.
Remember that this summer. Let your kids play.