The Importance of Summer Play

CMA believes in the power of play for children. 

Playing pretend at CMA’s Waffle House.

We all know the power play has to promote a child’s healthy development. This summer the need to play is even more urgent. Over the past year, children have been restricted from connecting and playing with friends and their lives have become even more scheduled and intensely stressful. Play is a powerful antidote to the negative impacts of chronic stress.

Child psychologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics believe that this summer, more than ever, our children need to experience play and some freedom from scheduling.  According to child-development expert Nancy Carlsson-Page, “There are many accounts of children playing out challenges and traumas they have faced in different life experiences. Children today who are experiencing the coronavirus pandemic need lots of imaginative play opportunities to help them make sense of the radical changes that have affected so many aspects of their lives. And once kids do return to in-person school, they are going to need a lot of time to play to process all the changes they’ve been through. This is what will help them regain a sense of security for going forward.”

A recent article in the journal Pediatrics defines play as “an activity that is intrinsically motivated, entails active engagement, and results in joyful discovery.” “Play is part of our evolutionary heritage,” the authors explain, “and gives us opportunities to practice and hone the skills needed to live in a complex world.” 

Fine tuning those fine motor skills at Leap Into Learning!

What happens when children do not have a chance to play? Without sufficient time to play children, “don’t have a safe way to release toxic stress and may lash out with antisocial behavior . . . Play may be an effective antidote to the changes in amygdala size, impulsivity, aggression, and uncontrolled emotion that result from significant childhood adversity and toxic stress,” the authors explain.

You’ll find loads of ways to play at CMA all summer long. Kick off your summer of play at our Summer Bash the last weekend in May. Join us for two days of dance parties, messy science, puffy paint, and more!


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