When you think about the basic needs of children, your mind probably goes to food, clothing and shelter. The things all humans need for survival. If you were to help the millions of homeless children in the United States, you might, rightfully, give some canned goods to a local food bank, or donate some blankets to an area shelter. These basic needs are something many of us can easily provide for our own children, and ones we easily take for granted.
There is another childhood need we take for granted: play. Play is a fundamental part of childhood development. Play helps shape our children’s characters, develop critical life skills and forge their sense of self worth. A recent study by the American Association of Pediatrics highlights the importance of play and of every child, regardless of circumstance deserving the right to play.
Play is a vital part of childhood, and something all children deserve to experience. Unfortunately, however, kids who find themselves with unstable housing — often moving from shelter to shelter — rarely get the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of play. Continue reading →
Throughout the year, I read many parenting pieces, several of which lament the over-scheduled, too-structured lives of our children. They wax poetic about the good ole days of playing outside until it got dark, inventing wacky games and the general ease of a childhood long gone. In the same pieces, those same writers lament about all of the activities they have to schlep to, the numerous play dates they’d rather not do and how they are exhausted from what they have presumed they must be in today’s parenting climate.
But, there is hope.
In my short time as a mom, I have seen more push back against the over-scheduled, helicopter-style parenting of the past decade or so. The free-range movement is gaining popularity, and more parents are embracing the idea of “less is more.” We are tired of being tired, and we want our kids to have the less structured childhood we remember so fondly.
If we want our kids to have a “freer” childhood, we have to make it possible. Continue reading →
My family was attending a birthday party for one of my son’s classmates, when my husband commented on the kids playing on the backyard swing-set, suggesting maybe we needed one for our own yard. In a lot of ways, he had a point. We have a large yard, we don’t live that close to a playground and our two boys are often quite literally climbing up the walls. A structured, safe, outdoor play space makes a lot of sense.
And yet, I remain hesitant to purchase a, or even accept a donated, swing-set. When I picture owning one, nothing about it feels right to me. I look out my kitchen window, imagining my kids swinging and sliding, and instead of conjuring up happy thoughts, all I see is bad news. Here’s why:
Editor’s note: In order to provide my readers with the best information, my family’s visit was compensated by the museum. All views expressed are my own.
Imagine That!!!! is a favorite destination for my kids, so when I learned the popular children’s museum in Florham Park, N.J. was under new ownership — and getting a totally revamped design — I knew I had to check it out.
My family visited the museum over the break, and we were all thrilled by the wider space, updated play areas, expanded climbing section, new features and more.
Read on to see why Imagine That!!! is a must-visit for families in the New York/New Jersey metro area. Continue reading →
We have all seen the videos of the toddler, ripping open the brand new, expensive toy, only to cast it aside and play with the box for hours. Whether it’s a cardboard box or some old newspaper, kids can turn almost anything into a plaything. For parents on a budget, parents looking for ways to engage their children’s creative thinking or parents just tired of the same old toys cluttering their living rooms, there are a ton of options that can be found beyond the “toy aisle.” In fact, most of these items can be purchased at your local hardware or dollar store or supermarket or even lying around your house.
My mother often calls me, “Miss Law and Order,” not because I work in the legal field, but because, from a young age, I tended to always follow the rules. If my family played a game together, you can bet I observed everyone’s moves closely, lest they attempt to cheat. My mom, who is never one to just go with convention, would chide me for being no fun.
My innate desire for things to abide by a predetermined set of regulations regularly clashes with my desire to let my children engage in free play. I fight my urge to grab the instruction manual and shout, “No, this is how you do it!” Continue reading →
Rainy days were awesome at summer camp. We put on our least favorite clothing (hopefully for our parents’ sake), find an open space in the middle of the field and plunge on to our bellies. Sliding through the mud we didn’t care how wet and filthy we became. We were kids having fun.
I’m guessing you have a similar story from your childhood. Remember how amazing stomping in puddles felt? The sound of the splashing water. The squishy sensation of your boats. The smell of rain. Continue reading →
Growing up as a girl in America, my life was full of Barbies. Though my memory is somewhat foggy, I am confident I had close to a hundred over the course of my childhood. I loved my Barbies. I loved dressing them in the best of late 80s fashion. I loved playing salon with them, at the expense of many a bad haircut. I loved all the typical girly things one can do with a Barbie.
Your toddler is playing with a toy truck at the playground. The truck was donated to the playground and does not belong to any child. Another child spies the truck and asks you nicely if he can play with the truck.
While watching a program on snow monkeys, I was fascinated by how their young played. There was hitting, pushing, punching, among other aggressive behavior, yet it was clear that there was nothing malicious going on. They were just children having fun. Continue reading →