The Serious Work of Play

The following is an excerpt from my guest post for Everything Mom!

The last precious weeks of summer are upon us… time for a final dip in the pool, a last popsicle in the park, and some eleventh hour speed reading of assigned summer books. The excitement of returning to old friends and new teachers has kids buzzing, but the implicit message in “Back to School” is that playtime is over. While the lazy days of summer rarely mean months of idle lounging, they do provide vital goof-off time… and this unstructured play is something to hold on to year round.


With high-stakes testing and budgets that cut arts, P.E., even recess, kids spend less and less of their school lives engaging in activities that allow for play and discovery… and their creative mental muscles pay the price. In today’s rapidly changing world, kids not only need multiplication facts and rules for comma usage, but they must also be equipped to solve problems yet to be imagined. With schools still hammering away at the 3 R’s of yore, there’s a 4th R our kids desperately need: Reasoning.

This fall, before you whip out the calendar and wedge an hour of intensive Reasoning training between gymnastics and violin, there’s good news! Reasoning and creative thinking develop naturally when kids have real, meaningful problems to solve… and you’d be amazed how many “problems” surface when kids have the freedom to simply muck about and play! Call it what you want… “Goof-Off Hour,” “Let Loose Time…” the important thing is that, as backwards as it sounds, you make time for your kids to do nothing!

Some tips to make free play a part of your life year-round: (Click to continue reading…)

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