“Play is the work of the child,” quipped Maria Montessori, who went on to craft an approach to education that builds on the way children learn naturally.
Young children quite easily find themselves at play, which opens them up to learn about the world around them.
Pay attention to what happens at the park as preschoolers begin to bump into one another, exchange a few words, and then ditch the playground equipment to traipse over to the woods where they turn tree overhangs into forts and wield sticks as magic wands. Imagination and play are at work, and your child’s world expands.
As children grow, play can go a few ways: it can get trumped by screen time or even by organized sports with soccer schedules that rival that of a CEO. But it doesn’t have to be that way!
In fact, colleges are looking for kids who practice play though an extracurricular activity—something that they regularly participate in outside of their normal academic classes.
While there’s nothing wrong with screens (they are necessary for most STEM-based extracurriculars) or athletics (a sport is a time-proven way to get exercise and gain invaluable life skills as a teammate), check out the many ways below where you can help your child develop through play once their preschool years are behind them.
We categorized these into four categories to help you search: art, exercise, STEM, and DIY. Scroll down for a full explanation of each category and lots of ideas to enrich your child’s life!