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Children need more free play (not more sports and music lessons)

As a young child, I often filled entire weekends with imaginative play. From the end of school on Friday through Sunday night, I would act out convoluted invented narratives, with my dolls and stuffed animals as the main characters. I felt pity for my friends who spent most of their out-of-school hours hopping between lessons and team sports.

A new article in Scientific American argues that free play is crucial to children’s emotional, social, and intellectual development—and yet, kids are getting less and less unstructured time as schools cut back on recess and extracurriculars increasingly dominate evenings and weekends. The author’s message, which she thoroughly backs up with research: Put playtime back into the hands of children. RP