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The Importance of Child’s Play

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This is a sponsored post and yet all opinions remain steadfastly my own. As always.

Long ago when all children were free range children, only we were just called children, unstructured play ruled the land. Granted, you could say it was an easier time, a gentler time, but was it, really? When I was young, we had to be in when the street lights went on, and that was when we were in elementary school. On those long, hazy summer nights we were covered in mosquito bites and a fine dusting of dirt from the street, or maybe some muck from the frog pond. We were always amazed when our mother knew we had been to the pond  (we weren’t supposed to go), and thought she was magic. Now I know that she could smell frog pond on us from 100 feet away. Anyone could, really, and that’s why it was off limits, not because we might fall in and drown, although I’m sure she considered that as a possibility.

Now, and I include myself in the ‘in control’ parent group, playtime is structured, scheduled and organized and supervised, but should it be? Classes are great, interests are wonderful, but where has the time for play gone? Here is a great article by Dr. Michael Patte, on the Genius of Play website.

Here is another article from The American Academy of Pediatrics, in case you like more data.

The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds

And, yes, my children had their share of scheduled activities from play dates to lessons to organized sports.  While I was not for letting my children wander off in the vague direction of a frog pond, they did have plenty of unstructured play. The swing set in our back yard has the typical worn down dirt under each swing and these patches of dirt became a magnet for their play, especially after a rain. Small plastic animals lived there (some, I fear, are still buried there), Barbies swam in the puddles with Polly Pockets, lions and horses, mud pies and castles reigned, and it was just the right amount of mess for my girls, and for me. As it turns out, frog ponds are really stinky.

So, sign your children up for a class or two, but remember that your backyard, local park or school yard has plenty of opportunities for play and the benefits for the children are enormous, so take the pledge to play. Don’t just take my word for it either.

Click here to take the Pledge to Play.

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Need more info on the benefits of play? Here are some stats and facts. Need ideas? Here are some great ideas for games.
Find the Toy Industry Association on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Youtube for more great tips about, basically, child’s play.
I received compensation for this post. 

Almost A Lemon

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Not the car but fun pic.

Almost But Not Quite a Lemon.

When we first made the move to the suburbs from the city, my husband and I prided ourselves on the proximity of our house to public transportation – I took the T into Boston, and it was fine to share a car. We were mobile, young, and both worked outside of the home.

Fast forward to the birth of our first child, my husband was gone all day – most importantly, with the car – and we realized we needed a second car. We went to our local auto dealership with our three month old (always a good idea for maximum focus) and negotiated a deal for a lovely used station wagon with low mileage and a pesky engine light that seemingly always flickered and then stayed on. The dealership promised to fix the light, and while I may have had a fair amount of spit up on my shirt by the time we signed the papers, sign we did.

That night at home during the usual 3 AM feeding, I realized I was concerned about the cost and the dependability of the car. What about that engine light? What if something was really wrong with the car? Would I know or just assume the engine light was faulty? I grabbed a legal pad and began scribbling. Finally, exhausted, I finished my work and baby and I went back to bed.

When my husband woke up the next morning (both baby and I were still fast asleep), he found a three page analysis of why we should buy out the lease of our existing car instead of the station wagon with the wonky engine light. It was in a Pro/Con format (as I was taught, thank you Dad), and I even ran numbers. And because I never run numbers, or even really, make lists, my husband knew this was serious. Pretty much I had reasoned that our existing car was a known entity with a known record, and the newish car a sort of scary unknown vortex of breakdowns and hefty repair costs (this was before sites like CarFax, people).

My husband agreed with me and while we were a little embarrassed (well, I was), we cancelled the sale of the car (which you can legally do – here is the info) and bought out the lease of our car.

That car ran like a top and was great until we had two little ones, a more often than not messy dog, and needed more room, and we finally did end up with a station wagon (named Mommy Car) IMG_0758which I drove for the next eleven years. So my #switchersremorse was buying a car and then un-buying the same car within 24 hours. You can change your mind. Sometimes it’s easier than you think.

This is a paid post for Verizon’s #SwitchersRemorse campaign. If you switched away from Verizon and are regretting it, don’t worry. They’re making it easy for customers to come back. For more information head over to your local Verizon store.

Summer Camp

IMG_1243Summer Camp

Summertime…Or, Oops I forgot to sign up for camp! While most of you have camps already in progress, you just might be looking to fill in an odd week here or there. There are still tons of options – not to worry!

Camp Seekers.com

Campseekers makes summer scheduling easier by giving parents a targeted list of summer camp sessions that meet specific criteria.

You can search for camp by location, date and camp type (i.e. sports) to find camp sessions that meet specific criteria – you can then filter by activity (i.e. soccer) or age to find the camp sessions that best fit their summer goals.

Currently, Campseekers includes approximately 250 camps representing close to 10,000 sessions in the greater Boston area. It is completely free to become a member of Campseekers.

Land’s Sake

Our family has loved this camp for many years. Low-key, educational, fun and in the dirt. What could be better? From the site: Kids learn about gardening and farm ecosytems, care for our chickens and rabbits, explore, and create! From kindergarten to high school, our experienced and highly trained educators lead exciting, age appropriate activities all summer long.

Environmental Science Program

From the site:
The Envi Sci program combines fun outdoor activities with learning about the environment. Each year it builds on the “peer education” principle by having the student leaders design, develop, and deliver the materials that the students use. New students are encouraged to return and become leaders in subsequent years, continuing the thread of responsibility for care and teaching about the environment.

A typical activity would be a hike to an area of interest, often in Newton but sometimes elsewhere, such as the Arnold Arboretum. Other activities range from bicycle trips to night walks for learning about nocturnal wildlife. We go on a 12-mile canoe trip on the Charles River, and we take water samples to report on the water quality. The learning materials for each day may cover ecology, geology, botany, pollution issues, or other areas that the student leaders select.

Each year there is an environmental cleanup project in which participants get hands-on involvement with improving an environmental sit

Learnivore (Build your own camp)

Find an Instructor

Search and message instructors directly, or create a Request and let them come to you.

Get to know each other; and if the fit is good, schedule your lesson. Take a lesson (or two) online, at home, at your instructor’s studio.

Find Classes Get inspired. Just sign in, and you’ll be able to see every new class that’s created in your area in your activity feed.

 

There are also great city and town camps – check with your town – Newton Community Education is where I generally start.

Newton Festival of the Arts – May 2015

In case you haven’t seen the signs or heard the news in any other way, Newton is having a month long celebration of the Arts. For a complete calendar listing go to to the website.

A Fabulous Month-Long, City-Wide Celebration & Showcase of Newton’s Talented Citizens and Organizations

 

Proceeds to Support Newton’s Four Food Pantries, Arts & Cultural Organizations

Mayor's Office for Cultural Affairs
For more information call 617 796-1540
or email: contactus@newtoncommunitypride.org

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