Parents generally want their children to get outside and play, but they may prefer structured activities to those fueled by imagination, finds.
Researchers from the Gallup organization, with funding by the toy company Melissa and Doug, surveyed a demographically weighted national sample of 1,271 parents and caregivers of children ages 10 and younger in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Only 1 in 5 parents reported agreeing that it can be good for children to “be bored now and then,” and only a third of parents first responded to their children expressing boredom by letting them find something to do on their own. While a majority of parents said free play led to children developing better creativity and problem-solving skills, they reported self-confidence, social skills, and academic skills were the most critical for children to develop by age 10. A majority of parents associated those skills with organized sports and structured activities rather than free play.
A version of this article appeared in the August 23, 2017 edition of Education Week as Child Well-Being