Do you ever feel like you are going in a million directions, or that your schedule is so full you cannot fit in one more event? And if you are a parent, odds are that many of those events in your schedule tie back to one of your child’s activities.
Recent studies have shown that kids today are overscheduled with organized activities. There are piano lessons, soccer, dance, gymnastics, and the list goes on. Organized activities are not unstructured play. Unstructured play typically places less pressure on the child, provides different skills, and promotes learning social skills in a less stressful environment. This is key as children are subject to increased academic stresses in the classroom as so many schools must fight for funding based on their standardized tests. The impact of this is exacerbated in children with attention difficulties.
We are no longer giving our children time to just play. From 1981-1997, children’s playtime decreased by 25% and it continues to decrease today because of the pressures of schedules and academics. Organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics are now weighing in on the subject and state that “play is not frivolous” and research shows that play helps children develop crucial skills such as language, executive function, ability to negotiate, manage stress, and be able to pursue goals with ignoring distractions.
Most recently discussed in a Quartz article, different types of unstructured play offer a variety of benefits which include;
- Object play - where children develop and learn how objects work
- Physical play - which gives children ability to take risks and acquire skills for communication, negotiation, and emotional balance
- Outdoor play - allows kids to integrate their senses
- Social/pretend play - allows kids to experiment with taking on new roles.
So how do we block time out for children to just play and to develop these different cognitive skills that help with their executive function?
Play Attention, is a program that can help navigate this new area of play. Play Attention provides cognitive training and behavioral shaping to individuals with attention difficulties to strengthen executive function. However, in addition to the training provided, Play Attention is a comprehensive program that helps give you tools to integrate play into your busy schedule. It even helps your children set and accomplish goals. We also provide a dedicated Personal Executive Function Coach that helps you succeed every step along the way. Make certain to schedule a little “free time” play 30 minutes before your Play Attention session starts. This will help the transition from the school day or other activities to your Play Attention session. This program can help you make changes in your whole family to help you start living a more balanced life!