Not Just Fun and Games

How Play Affects Your Child’s Health

As children head back to school after winter break, the time set aside for play seems to disappear. According to a survey conducted by Dr. Pepper Snapple Group’s Let’s Play Initiative, 56 percent of parents say busy schedules are a major barrier to play.

Play is an important part of a child’s physical, emotional and social development. In fact, kids who play are found to be healthier, happier and better performers in school. As children’s schedules become packed with activities during the school year, it is important to make sure they are getting enough active playtime each day to help them grow into happy, healthy adults.

Here are some reasons to keep kids active during the school year:

Play promotes social skills

According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just more than a quarter of students surveyed participated in daily physical education classes. Kids have fewer opportunities to be active during the school day, so it is important to supplement their schedules with after-school activities or sports throughout the year. Team sports are a great opportunity for children to foster friendships and connect with kids from different backgrounds. Keeping your children active through sports gives them the opportunity to maintain a physically active lifestyle while also making new friends.

Play heightens intellectual development

Education in the classroom allows children to learn and grow; however, physical activity outside of the classroom is also important for a child’s development. Studies show that physical play has been linked to helping kids think creatively and create connections with others through the process of sharing, negotiating and resolving conflicts. Such skills are vital for a child to learn and can be easily taught through active play.

Play enhances motor skills

Playgrounds serve as a great space for kids to explore and have fun in a safe environment while challenging and refining their motor skills. Interacting with play equipment helps build motor skills and improves self-control and coordination.

Play relieves stress

As kids get older, schoolwork becomes increasingly difficult and stress levels about the workload begin to rise. In fact, 46 percent of parents polled in the Let’s Play survey said that a focus on academics was one of their kids’ biggest barriers to play. While academics should always be a priority, giving kids the opportunity and time to play can relieve the stress associated with school and allow them to simply have fun.