Published by Lori Pickert on August 30, 2008 at 03:02 AM

I highly recommend the documentary Where Do the Children Play?, showing now on PBS.

Free play is slipping away from children’s lives. Yet time spent building forts or exploring outdoors, caring for animals, pretending or problem-solving with peers are now being shown by a wide body of research to be essential to healthy development, spiritual attunement, and emotional survival. Open-ended play in places that offer access to woods, gullies and gardens, ditches, boulders, and bike paths enhances curiosity and confidence throughout life.


Comment by Candy Cook on August 30, 2008 at 08:58 AM

I totally agree. Thanks for posting the PBS show. Several years back, houses were built on the lot where we used to play baseball and our secret haven in the woods was paved and "civilized" to be a bike/walking sidewalk instead of an overgrown trail. It's sad to watch such cool and special places disappear as you get older until it's just really hard to find spots like those anymore. Oh well, as my boys grow older - I'm sure they'll find spots of their own. We added in a gate to our backfence specifically so they could access the small tract of untamed woods between our subdivision and the next.

Comment by molly on August 30, 2008 at 11:31 AM

Thanks for sharing this. I just set up our DVR to record it tomorrow! :)

Comment by Lori Pickert on August 30, 2008 at 12:28 PM

candy, i love your blog name. :) even if kids have access to some sort of untamed outdoors, the documentary talks about how they have no *time* to do that sort of exploration. very thought-provoking.

molly, i think you will really enjoy it!

Comment by Sarah Jackson on August 30, 2008 at 01:54 PM

I'm going to go record that one too. We don't have woods around us (and I envy you for yours) but we do have bike trails and a safe neighborhood to run around in and lots of kids to play with. I don't put them in afterschool activities simply because I want them to have time to play.

Glad to see you slowly resurfacing!

Comment by greenchickadee on September 1, 2008 at 01:41 AM

You are so right and I wish more people could watch, read, and be award of what's happening. I'm always surprised when I get to spend time with children who are creative, imaginative, and little problem solvers. Thanks for the TV recommendation!

Comment by Eren on September 3, 2008 at 02:03 PM

Oh yay! Thanks for the recomendation.

Comment by Susana on September 3, 2008 at 02:18 PM

Thank you for your recommendation!

Comment by Megan on September 4, 2008 at 12:34 AM

Here at Winfield there is a creek that runs along the back of the property into a neighborhood-owned Prairie Restoration project, where the children are welcome to play as long as they are not engaging in wanton destruction.

It is one of my oldest's favorite places to explore, play, daydream, walk, sit, think, hide, and talk. Even this evening, after coming home from a busy day at school, after the rain let up, that's where she went. I hope she continues to find time and opportunity to enjoy "open-ended play" there as her schedule gets filled up with activities.

I totally agree that children need long periods of time to explore, without hurrying from activity to activity. But she was getting too much of that, I guess, and has been yearning to have more structure in her day. Well, now she's got it, and so far she likes it...

Interestingly, I lived here in Winfield Village for 2 years as a small child, and I remember enjoying the creek in the same way. Except my brother and I used to climb up to the railroad tracks (Mom did tell us not too). I haven't heard of her doing that...


Comment by molly on September 5, 2008 at 08:30 PM

Lori, that picture is amazing! wow.

Comment by estea on September 18, 2008 at 03:31 AM

couldn't agree more. this makes me miss my urban nabe! tiny backyard and big front porch, small parks at the end of the block...

and the title reminds me of a wonderful little o.o.p book - And the Children Played, by Patricia Joudry.

gorgeous little read on this very topic, although i haven't read it for some time, and haven't been able to find it at the local library.

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