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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET from parents have to do with balance. Most parents wonder how to bal- ance their own family and work lives, and they are also concerned with how to find the balance between their children’s free, unstructured time at home with planned activities outside the home such as music lessons and organized sports. Also, many parents wonder if their children are spending too much time involved with technology—whether it’s playing computer games, watching television, or using an iPad. My concern is less about what children are doing and more about what they’re not doing. When discussing how children should be spending their time, I try to help families refocus on the goal of living balanced lives. Children benefit from exposure to a broad variety of experiences. If they are spending most of their free time doing one thing, that’s probably not a good idea. So when I’m asked, “Is my child doing too much [fill in the blank]?” I like to reframe the question and ask, “Is there anything missing from your child’s life? Is your child enjoying a full range of play experi- ences?” This concept of balance in children’s play experiences is similar to the concept of nutritional balance. Suppose I drop by your house one random day and find you eating a bowl of cereal and you ask me, “Do you think I eat too much cereal?” I won’t know the answer to that question unless I ask about what else you usually eat. Serving a balanced diet of play to your child follows the same pattern. If you’re wondering whether your child spends too much time on the computer, or too much time playing alone with dolls, or too much time building with Lego bricks, then you need to look at what other play experiences your child is having. Is there variety? Is there balance? The ten essential play experiences described in this book represent a full range of play experiences for a balanced and joyous childhood. There are many different ways we might categorize play into ten experiences. Early childhood educators think of play in terms of the domains of develop- ment—physical, social, emotional, cognitive, and language. Parents often think of play in terms of when and where it takes place—after school or before bed, indoors or outdoors; or perhaps in terms of how the play affects the rest of the family—quiet play or loud play. For the purposes of this book, I tried to put myself in young children’s shoes and create categories of play Play Is Still Play … 3 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL