A new initiative encourages doctors to prescribe play, with staff at Ohio based practice Chillicothe Pediatrics sharing LEGO bricks with children.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) found in a recent report that playful learning is just as important as more traditional ways of learning, such as classroom experiences and library visits. Dr Amy Luckeydoo attended the AAP National Conference, where she another health professionals could sign up for free LEGO sets for medical practices.
“The idea is to enhance play and get kids away from screens,” Dr Heather Sever, a fellow physician at Chillicothe Pediatrics Columbus, Ohio, told Chillicothe Gazette. Staff at the doctor’s office have noticed parents using screens to distract waiting children.
As of next week, the two doctors will begin prescribing play when they are doing 18 month and 24 month wellness checks on children. Families receiving the prescription will get a LEGO DUPLO box containing a variety of animals, with parents encouraged to spend 15 minutes playing with their children.
Evidence shows that it usually takes children 400 repetitions to learn something – but only 10 to 20 when learning through play. The AAP report also demonstrated that play relieves stress in children while helping them to enhance their social, emotional language and cognitive skills.
Staff at the doctor’s office say that they almost always see parents distracting their children with screens. But children under two should not be exposed to any screen time as it causes slower development. Those over two should not exceed two hours of screen time a day, excluding educational learning, according to Sever.