children playing in the leaves and running

kids playingFond memories of playing with our friends as a child are common, but play time should not only be part of our memories, it should be a part of our children’s every day.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is now urging doctors to talk with families about getting kids to play.

  • Types of play, include:
    • Object play (playing with an object and learning about it)
    • Physical, Locomotor, or Rough-and-Tumble Play
    • Outdoor
    • Social or pretend

Why is play so important?

  • Playing is crucial for learning, stress relief, and brain and skill development
  • Developmentally appropriate play with parents and peers is an opportunity to promote the social-emotional, cognitive, language, and self-regulation skills.
  • Play supports the formation of the safe, stable, and nurturing relationships
  • It can be good physical exercise

How should play be encouraged?

  • It is so important that doctors may even write an actual prescription for play
  • Doctors should discuss playing — including smiling back at infants and playing peak-a-boo — at every appointment until a child turns 2
  • Schools should allow for unstructured playtime, as opposed to purely formal teaching, and include daily recess periods
  • Avoid screens because they encourage passivity and the consumption of others’ creativity rather than active learning and socially interactive play. Plus, they take away time from real play

Hopefully with a new emphasis on play for our children, parents will find they can get in on the fun too!

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Article by:

Heather Felton, M.D.

Dr. Heather Felton is medical director of UofL Pediatrics – Sam Swope Kosair Charities Centre. She is also an assistant professor at the University of Louisville School of Medicine. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Kentucky and her medical degree from the University of Louisville School of Medicine. She is a member of the American Medical Association, Kentucky Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics and Group of Women in Medicine and Science. Her specialty is pediatrics. Dr. Felton’s areas of interest include safety and injury prevention; improving anticipated guidance provided to families during check-ups; and advocating for children’s safety.

All posts by Heather Felton, M.D.
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