20 May “Play All May”: Join in the First Month-Long Celebration of Play
“We used to play pretend, give each other different names
We would build a rocket ship and then we’d fly it far away
Used to dream of outer space but now they’re laughing in our face…”
— “Stressed Out,” Twenty-One Pilots
It was Albert Einstein who said “play is the highest form of research,” but it seems like our country didn’t get the message.
Rather than developing their creativity and social skills through play, many kids spend most of their free time being shuttled to lessons or youth sports; others are too absorbed in social media to play outside; and schools have cut back on recess or eliminated it entirely.
Enter the Genius of Play, a non-profit initiative created by The Toy Association. To raise awareness of play’s crucial role in child development, the Genius of Play has launched Play All May, the nation’s first month-long celebration of play.
Play can be an excellent buffer for toxic stress, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. In the presence of childhood adversity, the AAP explained, “the mutual joy that parents and children can experience during play down-regulates the body’s stress response.”
To encourage families’ support for the importance of play, The Toy Association created a short video for parents (see above) called “A Prescription for Play,” along with a May social media campaign @GeniusofPlay on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The benefits of play, the AAP declares, include language and early math skills, social skills, physical health, a sense of agency and stronger peer relationships and executive functioning.
But even though the power of play has been proven by decades of research, it has received short shrift in recent years, according to Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of The Toy Association. “Today’s children are under more stress than ever, juggling full schedules with school and extracurricular activities, leaving no unstructured downtime for them to just be kids,” he said recently.
The Genius of Play was developed to change that. In a 2015 study on how parents of young children view play, it found that while 92% of parents found play essential, it wasn’t always a priority for them. Not surprisingly, the Genius of Play website is packed with ideas on how to make that happen. Its website features a guide to the six benefits of play, age-by-age play ideas and tips, expert advice on play, and an age-by-age toy guide. The goal of the “Play All May” campaign, the association explains, “is to inspire parents and caregivers to make time for play.”
For more information on games and play ideas for your children, visit The Genius of Play website.
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Yogman, M., et al. (2018, September). The Power of Play: A Pediatric Role in Enhancing Development in Young Children. Pediatrics 142 (3). Retrieved from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/142/3/e20182058