Consider these words from Peter Gray, author of  “Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life:”

Free play is nature’s means of teaching children that they are not helpless. In play, away from adults, children really do have control and can practice asserting it. In free play, children learn to make their own decisions, solve their own problems, create and abide by rules, and get along with others as equals rather than as obedient or rebellious subordinates.

Peter Gray’s words remind me of danah boyd‘s descriptions and analysis of the over-scheduled lives of teens in her recent book, “It’s Complicated: the social lives of networked teens.”

Our family has been “guilty as charged” when it comes to encouraging our children to participate in a wide variety of after-school activities. With the start of school this week and the establishment of new schedules for the fall, I’m wondering how I can find more time for free play in my life (even as an adult) as well as how my wife and I can encourage our kids to participate more in free play.

These ideas are closely tied to the need we have to limit screen time and spend more unstructured time in natural spaces. I don’t have answers here, but I definitely have lots of questions.

I started two Pinterest boards this evening on this topic, “Play is Important” and “Go Outside.” For more of my related thoughts, read my post “Book Review: “It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens” by danah boyd. I found Peter Gray’s quotation above in Jessica Lahey‘s June 2014 article in The Atlantic, “Why Free Play Is the Best Summer School.” Follow her on Twitter: @jesslahey.

Follow Wesley’s board Play is Important on Pinterest.Follow Wesley’s board Go Outside on Pinterest.


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