Guest Blogger Kimberly Porter MA, LPCC-S, Manager, Beyond the Classroom

Children, teens, and adults all need time to play. “Free play” is especially beneficial in increasing confidence, social skills and providing a fun way for children and teens to increase emotion regulation and coping skills. The activities below are adaptable to any age will boost the emotional and mental health of all participating. Here are a few ideas to get you started on incorporating play into summer activities:

VISIT the PlayLibrary in OTR! Pull out those classic board games and maybe add a twist such as a dance move when red is played or share something funny when a 7 is played. These can create times of laugher and build some new traditions that may go beyond the summer. (It also releases all those positive chemicals in the body which increase positive mood and connection.) Even when someone (big or little) gets frustrated it becomes an opportunity to practice calming down together.

Adventure-based games like flashlight tag or a scavenger hunt support strengthening team-building skills and problem-solving. Maybe take turns with who creates the scavenger hunt to foster creativity or try geocaching.

Play with different art mediums to get the right side of the brain which helps kids and teens to increase self-expression, confidence and celebrate what makes them unique. You may even create things together to be displayed at home or given as gifts to others. Check out summer events at Kennedy Heights Art Center! And the Music Resource Center!

Play can also happen daily. Check out Washington Park’s calendar! Ask for ideas from your teen or child!

Kim joined us on Facebook Live to discuss the importance of play for families. You can check out the video here.