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Kids are so over-scheduled that doctor are being told to prescribe play


For many parents, back-to-school season incites a mad scramble to organize kids’ activities—from music lessons to math club and after-school tutoring. But a new policy report from the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests we’d do better to pencil in big blocks of time devoted to nothing but free play.


“Play is not frivolous,” the report says. Rather, research shows that play helps children develop language and executive functioning skills, learn to negotiate with others and manage stress, and figure out how to pursue their goals while ignoring distractions, among other things. The report warns that parents and schools are focusing on academic achievement at the expense of play, and recommends that pediatricians attempt to turn the tide by prescribing play during well visits for children.


“At a time when early childhood programs are pressured to add more didactic components and less playful learning, pediatricians can play an important role in emphasizing the role of a balanced curriculum that includes the importance of playful learning for the promotion of healthy child development,” write the authors, led by Michael Yogman, chairman of the AAP committee on psychosocial aspects of child family health.