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Get Outside and Play!


As the weather is turning warmer, it is important for healthy child development for the child to have outside activities.

Nashville, Ark. – The weather is turning warmer. The sound of baseballs. Sounds of laughter. All of these make me think of children having fun and playing outside. Have you ever considered the importance of play in the development of a child? Fred Rogers (Mister Rogers) stated it best. “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But to a child, play is serious. Play is really the work of childhood.”

Play is crucial to healthy child development, and unstructured play is so important. Yes, we put our children in community sports and other structured activities, but just letting a child get outside and play is vitally important. Children are inherently curious and love to explore their surroundings. While this can be exhausting to the parent of a toddler or preschooler, it is necessary for the brain. Important cognitive, social, and emotional needs are being met by unstructured and uninterrupted play. When parents interfere or do things for a child that can do for themselves, they inhibit the learning process.

 It is perfectly normal and understandable to want to help our children succeed. However, when we see our child struggling to complete a task or completing it in, what we see as, an inefficient way, we may be tempted to step in and help. Unless your child asks for help or they are in danger of harming themselves or others, let them figure out the task. If they ask for help, guide them to a point where they can take over and do it themselves. For example, if your child is trying to get a cup of milk, instead of getting the cup and filling it yourself, let them get their own cup and, depending on the weight of the milk carton, either lift it and let them guide it or let them pour while holding the cup steady. You will show confidence that your child can succeed, and your child will feel far more accomplished and independent. Children of parents who do things for them that they could do themselves show less self-confidence and more permission-seeking behavior. The hardest part is allowing children to make mistakes. Keep in mind that this is an important part of their development.

In the age of Pinterest and other social media outlets, it is common to want to make moments spent with our children into special times. We pack in activities, and we want to make sure they are learning every minute. When we offer structured activities and limit their free-play time, we unintentionally limit their creativity and interfere with their ability to self-govern. Kids who aren’t allowed creative, child-directed playtime tend to be easily bored and have difficulty coming up with things to do on their own. Why? Because they are used to an adult telling them what to do next. Children learn to problem-solve and create when allowed to play alone or with other children.

Parents and kids are busier now than ever before. If you have the means to offer your children opportunities for extracurricular activities, and the child wants to participate, sometimes it is hard to say no. However, what ends up happening, especially in families with multiple children, is an unnecessarily high level of stress in trying to maintain such a busy schedule. It is hard to limit extra activities, but giving children unstructured time and families time to rest is extremely important.

When children play and interact with their surroundings they learn. They learn physics, psychology, engineering, biology, botany, music, art, dance, theater, conflict resolution, emotion regulation, relationship management, and so much more!

Let your children get outside and play. Let them fall down and get back up. Let them play and run and jump! Children need love and support without smothering and second-guessing. It makes for a much better parent-child relationship.

For more information on parenting, contact the Howard County Cooperative Extension Service at 870-845-7517 or visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse. If you have young children, you might be interested in the self-guided program, “See the World Through My Eyes”. This free publication addresses many common challenges parents of infants to preschool face. You can also check out the website for more parenting information.

Recipe of the Week

This prize-winning recipe was submitted by Emmie Trombley. A member of the Nature Seekers 4-H Club in Howard County. They won first place and overall winner in the recent 4-H Bread and Cookie contest. This recipe would be great for breakfast, brunch, or as a snack.


Blueberry Vanilla Bread with Lemon Glaze

  • Blueberry Lemon Bread:

    1/3 c. butter, melted

    1 cup white sugar

    2 eggs

    ½ tsp. vanilla extract

    1 ½ c. all-purpose flour

    1 tsp. baking powder

    1 tsp. salt

    ½ c. milk

    2 T. lemon zest, grated

    1 c. blueberries, fresh or frozen

    2 T. all-purpose flour

  • Lemon Glaze:

    2 T. lemon juice, freshly squeezed

    ½ c. powdered sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Butter an 8x4-inch loaf pan, line the bottom and two sides of the pan with parchment paper.
  3. In a mixing bowl, beat together butter, 1 cup of sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt; stir into egg mixture alternately with milk.
  5. In the same bowl where you combined flour, add blueberries, and toss them in 2 tablespoons of flour.This will help prevent blueberries from sinking.
  6. Fold in lemon zest, and blueberries into the batter. Do it carefully and fast.
  7. Pour the lemon bread batter into prepared pan.
  8. Bake in preheated oven for about 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of loaf comes out clean.
  9. Cool bread in pan for 40 minutes on wire rack. Release the bread from the pan.
  10. Combine freshly squeezed lemon juice and ½ cup powdered sugar in a small bowl and beat, using an electric mixer, until smooth glaze forms.
  11. Drizzle the top of the blueberry lemon bread (after it has been completely cooled) with the glaze.
  1. Calories 259kcal, Carbohydrates 44g, Protein 3g, Fat 7g, Saturated Fat 4g, Cholesterol 50mg,Sodium 305 mg, Potassium 100mg, Fiber 1g, sugar 28g, Vitamin A 265iu, Vitamin C 4.1mg,Calcium 42mg, Iron 1.2mg


By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517


The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.