Kids playing
State Point Media

During the rush of the back-to-school season, the focus is all on school, homework and scheduled activities. And with so much down time revolving around televisions, computers and handheld devices, it can be difficult for families to find time to simply be spontaneous and playful.

But experts say that making time for free play can be beneficial to kids, enhancing self-esteem, creativity and cognitive ability.

“Play gives children an opportunity to joyfully explore their world, learn new things and connect to others,” says Steven Gross, Chief Playmaker of the Life is good Playmakers, a non-profit organization committed to helping kids overcome poverty, violence, and illness through the power of play. "Children need food, water and medicine to survive. But if you want them to fully live, they need to play."

The majority of American parents say the most difficult part of transitioning their child from summertime to a school schedule is the loss of unstructured playtime, according to results of a recent survey commissioned by GoGo squeeZ, maker of 100 percent fruit, all-natural applesauce on-the-go. Three-quarters of those surveyed fear that lack of open playtime means their children are missing out on experiences that teach them to be creative, communicate, share and resolve conflicts.

GoGo squeeZ has partnered with the Life is good Playmakers and is encouraging families to incorporate playfulness into their routine during the busy back to school season.

One way to make more time for free play is to ensure that kids have on-the-go healthy and portable snack options. Parents should always be prepared with a tasty snack like GoGo squeeZ that doesn’t interrupt playtime.

The Life is good Playmakers offer these additional tips for great ways families can be more playful in their daily lives:

• Sing what you’re doing: It offers a chance to connect and be joyful, and it never fails to become collaborative and produce smiles. Gross says, “Play is defined not by the activity, but by the spirit in which you approach it.”

• Create a playfulness plan: “You plan for retirement. You plan for building a house. You have weekend plans. Doesn’t playfulness deserve to be prioritized and planned?” says Gross. Carve out time to boost your joy, connections and creativity by making a playful promise in writing for all to see.

• Take it outside: even if you’re inside you can still “play in the rain.” Structure is important, but there has to be a balance of routine and spontaneity. “Do the unexpected and go freestyle -- outdoors or in -- once in a while,” encourages Gross.

• Spend more time being interested than interesting: Renounce the role of parent and dive whole-heartedly into the things that make your child happy. Gross says “Connect with your child by reconnecting with the child in you.”

To learn more about the importance of playfulness and the work of GoGo squeeZ and the Life is good Playmakers, visit

Childhood only comes once. Help your kids make the most of theirs by giving them the freedom and space to be playful.

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