Why Kids Need Freedom To Play

I'm usually an open-minded person, but there is one thing I will stand firm on: I do not want to over-schedule my family. I want my kids to have the freedom to play, read books, dig in the dirt, and ride their bikes with friends. I want to sit down and eat dinner as a family. I want my kids to have time to think about life. I want a chance to talk to my husband and sons without rushing from one place to another. This isn't because I'm selfish, it's because I want healthy, loving kids that have the potential to become great innovators.

Reserving free time for my kids is very important to me and there is research to back up this theory. According to a new article in Psychology Today, As Children’s Freedom Has Declined, So Has Their Creativity. A recent  study done by Kyung Hee Kim shows a continuous decline in creativity among American children over the last two or three decades. Kim says that we are in a "creativity crisis." In the past, I've read article after article to know how important it is for our children to have the freedom to play. 

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics states "Some of the best interactions occur during downtime—just talking, preparing meals together, and working on a hobby or art project, playing sports together, or being fully immersed in child-centered play." (source)
  • "A study of more than 11,000 eight- and nine-year-olds, led by pediatric researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in New York, showed that kids who had at least 15 minutes of recess a day (even just 15 minutes!) behaved better in class." (source)
  • An article from Scientific American says “Free play,” as scientists call it, is critical for becoming socially adept, coping with stress and building cognitive skills such as problem solving. (source)
  • Dr. Peggy Drexler says that "alone time is a crucial, and too often forgotten, part of development. The real world is not a constant party, or a day at camp. Real world includes downtime, and it includes alone time." (source)

As a mom, I want my children to be smart and physically fit, but I also want them to be expressive, creative, caring, imaginative, passionate, funny and socially aware. My kids are only 4 and 6, so I don't know exactly what the future holds for them, however, I do know that their personal success is not solely dependent upon their standardized test scores or how many extracurricular activities they are signed up for.

“Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity.”

- Kay Redfield Jamison