A prescription for play: Making playtime a medical necessity

It may seem like common sense, or perhaps an overly-simple recommendation. But giving kids a “prescription to play” is now becoming sound medical advice, according to a recent New York Times article.

In a culture that is becoming increasingly virtual, this directive to let kids play becomes even more crucial. This is why the American Academy of Pediatrics has released a policy statement titled “The Power of Play: A Pediatric Role in Enhancing Development in Young Children.” The main takeway: doctors should encourage playful learning between parents and infants at each medical visit during the first two years of life. 

Science has taught us that the “joyful discovery” of play aids in brain development, with the changes showing up at the molecular and cellular level, as well as through behaviour. These playful interactions also enhance the parent-child relationship.

Still, many parents feel the need to schedule every minute of the day. And it’s this need to schedule and structure kids lives that has some in the medical community worried that play is not getting the time and respect it deserves.

When kids play, they work on the social and emotional skills, and the executive function, needed to become well-adjusted and engaged adults. As the saying goes, “play is the work of the child.”

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