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No mere child's play

Original post made on Nov 21, 2007

Play allows kids to learn about their own personalities, make decisions and become more creative, according to a report released this year by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Yet some parents are depriving children of valuable playtime, said the authors, a group of doctors led by Philadelphia-based Kenneth R. Ginsburg.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, November 21, 2007, 11:06 AM

Comments (9)

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 21, 2007 at 12:45 pm

A couple of my own observations.

Play time is important, and there should be plenty of playtime that does nto involve a screen of any description. I have seen friends come over and they spend the whole time watching one person play a video game. That is not play. If they can't play outside, how about board games, scrabble, monopoly, plus some of the newer apples to apple type games are great for kids to play on their own.

Sticking preschoolers in front of Sesame Street and similar shows for hours on end is not teaching them anything. The tv is not a babysitter and shows should be watched by parent and child together for no more than 30 minutes at a time and then parent and child should be talking about the show as they watch.

Chores are an important family or friendly way of kids spending time together. Get them raking leaves, washing the car, baking cookies. It is not too important how well the job is done until they are older, it is getting them to learn that doing their share of the chores makes them useful and can be fun.

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Posted by typical
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 21, 2007 at 6:22 pm

It is smart for your children to hae guidelines but do not be so enforceful like on a 30 minute tv schedule? cmon, there kids. You need to set guidelines and let the children make their own decisions and if they do something wrong make then think about how what they did was wrong.

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Posted by PA_rent
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 21, 2007 at 6:39 pm

When I was a kid, we use to just run out the back door and be home by dinner time. Now there are too many dangers (or we are aware of these dangers more) and cannot just let our children roam and run around the neighborhood. Even during my childhood, I noticed a change in attitudes when drug problems started becoming an issue at our local schools. Things have changed gradually, but parents just need to find ways to let their children have unstructured playtime. Perhaps less after-school lessons and more playdates in the park.

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 21, 2007 at 7:03 pm


I will explain my 30 mins. tv. For a preschooler, watching say Sesame Street, 30 mins with a parent for that stint is good, and if it turns into 40 mins, I am not complaining. Then the tv can go off for a couple of hours and maybe later in the day, another 30 mins watching with a different parent, or a disney movie or some such. I am not advocating that 30 mins for everyone and I am not saying that that is all for one day, just for one stint. I have come across too many parents that leave the tv on all day for their preschoolers and then complain when they are older and won't turn it off. Get into the habit early that one show or 30 min. stint is sufficient at one sitting and then it will be easier to set limits later.

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Posted by Terry
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 21, 2007 at 7:17 pm

Maybe it is just us, but our kids are not "over-scheduled" and, asking them and my wife, we don't really know many who are. There are almost always kids looking to play on our block and the blocks adjacent and the kids around here spend hours upon hours just hanging out. My kids each have an activity or two, depending on the season; other kids seem similar.

My kids did allow that there are some kids who are sports-oriented who perhaps are doing two competitive sports a season or going to out-of-town events during the week year around, and that those kids have tight schedules. There is a young swimmer on our block like that. But that seems to be a small minority, and sports is at least reasonably close to "play" in my book.

I'm sure these over-scheduled, play-deprived kids exist, but are they as widely spread as is often implied?

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Posted by PA mom
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 22, 2007 at 2:47 pm

Most kids I know who are a 4-5 grade Walter Hays students play at least one sport per season, usually at a club/competitive level, often more than one sport, this leaves little time for "just play". Terry - I envy your neighborhood - there are seldom kids just playing around here.

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Posted by Paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 22, 2007 at 3:13 pm

Everyone at Paly is tremendously busy with school as well as extra-curriculars -- not much time for hanging out.

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Posted by Mike Lanza
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 22, 2007 at 10:51 pm


I'm in the middle of publishing statistics for the Playborhood survey on Web Link. It's clear from these that very few kids are playing outside in their neighborhoods more than a couple days a week. As for Palo Alto in particular, the results are even more bleak. Our statistics show that fewer than 5% of kids here play outside unsupervised at least three days a week.

So I, like others, are envious of you and your situation. A big part of what we're doing at Playborhood is exposing great "Playborhoods" and parents who want to find them. Because there are so few real Playborhoods, yet there are so many parents who want to find them, we believe we can facilitate some solutions to this problem. I'm working on it nonstop...

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Posted by Jennifer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 24, 2007 at 7:50 pm

I would like to add that children need time to play with their parents. If mom and dad don't unplug, leave the cell phone at home, and relax, how are the children supposed to learn to do this? Children need extended play time with their parents - we are the model. Our children value what we value. This is not about the parks and the neighborhoods, it is about the whole famlily.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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