When adults today look back on their time as children, many of their memories may come from moments when they were engaged in free play with kids in their neighborhood — exploring creeks, riding bikes, and playing pick-up sports. Moments like these, occurring outside of adult-imposed structures, put children in a position to make decisions, take risks, and navigate social relationships. Now parents are much more likely to organize playdates on behalf of their children or push them into organized sports and summer camps. But do these interactions provide the same kinds of learning experiences? If parents value free play, what choice do they have? In Playborhood: Turn Your Neighborhood into a Place for Play (Free Play Press, 2012), Mike Lanza describes how individual families can establish hangout spaces for kids in order to foster self-reliance and joy for their children and build community with their neighbors.
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