Keep it simple and PLAY!
I remember my dad telling us how his brothers and sisters would race out of the house right after breakfast on weekend mornings and not come back until the streetlights came on. They knew that grandma would make whomever was left hanging around help with the household chores. He'd laugh telling me, because as an adult he realized it was her great plan to have the kids busy outside playing so that she COULD take care of the house.
I've been reading so many articles lately about the emotional and physical detriment lack of play is having on today's children. Parents somehow came to believe that an academic edge would benefit their children more than the imperative free play time. It effects them in every aspect of their lives and adults find themselves trying to "teach" these skills to children later in life.
There has been a rise of anxiety, depression, attention problems and lack of self control. Children are suffering from sensory issues and the inability to even hold themselves upright in their chairs at school. In their effort to be more affective parents, adults have taken more control of their children's activities. It's actually hard to even find kids in the neighborhood who are out after school as opposed to being at an organized activity or class.
There are many reasons why free play provides critical life experiences that lead to confident and capable adults. It gives children the opportunity to develop a connection to their own interests, they figure out how to make decsions and problem-solve, they also learn how to follow rules. The emotional issues often stem from the lack of control they feel over their own lives. When children are allowed to free play, they role play, swing, slide, climb and both physically and socially challenge themselves. It also enables them to best learn how to socially interact and cooperate with others. Most importantly, play is a great source of happiness.
As a teacher, I interact and observe children every day. I feel so strongly about this topic and I hope to see a great change in our idea of what's best for our kids. See you outside!