GROOVE VILLAGE, IL -- Free and unstructured play is healthy and essential for helping children reach important social, emotional, and cognitive developmental milestones as well as helping them manage stress and become resilient, according to a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

"The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds" was written in defense of play and in response to forces threatening free play and unscheduled time, according to the AAP’s Web site. Forces include changes in family structure, the increasingly competitive college admissions process, and federal education policies that have led to reduced recess and physical education in many schools.

Reduced time for physical activity may be contributing to the academic differences between boys and girls, as schools with sedentary learning styles become more difficult settings for some boys to navigate successfully, the report says. Also, whereas play protects children's emotional development, a loss of free time in combination with a hurried lifestyle can be a source of stress, anxiety and may even contribute to depression for many children.

"The challenge for society, schools, and parents is to strike the balance that allows all children to reach their potential without pushing them beyond their personal comfort limits, and while allowing them personal free time," according to the report.
To see the full report click http://www.aap.org/pressroom/playFINAL.pdf