Imagine a drug that could enhance a child's creativity, critical thinking and resilience. Imagine that this drug were simple to make, safe to take, and could be had for free.
The nation's leading pediatricians say this miracle compound exists. In a new clinical report, they are urging doctors to prescribe it liberally to the children in their care.
What is this wonder drug? Play.
“This may seem old-fashioned, but there are skills to be learned when kids aren’t told what to do,” said Dr. Michael Yogman, a Harvard Medical School pediatrician who led the drafting of the call to arms.
So begins an article in the Los Angeles Times that goes on to quote the recent blockbuster report from the American Academy of Pediatrics that said that kids who play more are happier, healthier and less anxious. They even become better students.
But what the Academy did NOT say is how families can possibly give their kids back all this play time that's recommended.
After all, many parents don't want their kids going outside unsupervised. And aside from safety concerns, kids' after school hours are filled with homework, adult-run activities, and electronic devices. Where does old-fashioned free play fit in?
That's the question The Let Grow Play Club answers. When schools stay open for the Play Club -- free play with some adults on premises who are available in emergencies but do not organize the games or solve the spats -- all the pieces fall into place:
1 - There's a critical mass of kids to play with
2 - They're at a place the parents trust (as opposed to a park or the street)
3 - They're off their electronic devices
4 - The kids of all ages play together, which means older kids throw the ball softer to the little kids (learning empathy) while younger kids hold themselves together so they don't look like babies (learning self-control).
Without adults micromanaging them, kids have to come up with something to do, make it happen, and solve their own problems, thereby developing leadership, cooperation, problem-solving, and even -- because they make and change the rules themselves -- democracy.
The Let Grow Play Club is a way to give kids the play time recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.