We're cutting traditional after-school activities to make time for academic ones, but the role of play in development shouldn't be forgotten.
Play is important for the emotional, social, cognitive, and physical development of children. In addition to being critical for general health and a preventative against overweight, play develops life skills for children and communication skills among peers and family members.
But because of over-scheduling, over-supervision, lack of appropriate play environments, and too many entertaining screens many children have less access to play time and play spaces than children in the past.
Children living in poverty experience these barriers and more, according to a recent clinical report from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Underprivileged children often have less access to recess and school-based creative arts, music, and physical education programs. Additionally, the socioeconomic stressors on poor families often conspire against parents having the time, energy, or skills to engage in play with their children.
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Poor children's access to outdoor play spaces may be compromised by the safety of their neighborhoods and the decrease in parks and open spaces in urban areas. Children who are unable to play outside tend to spend more time on screen-based activities such as watching TV or playing video games. Excessive screen time takes a huge toll on mental and physical health and academic achievement