Early Childhood Report Roundup

Child Well-Being

By Sarah D. Sparks — August 22, 2017 1 min read

Parents generally want their children to get outside and play, but they may prefer structured activities to those fueled by imagination, finds a new study.

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.

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A version of this article appeared in the August 23, 2017 edition of Education Week as Child Well-Being

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