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Back to Basics: Give kids time to play

By Jane Derenowski
NBC News producer

The idea for the Back to Basics Series started with stuff - too much stuff! I was sick and tired of trying to find space and time to organize, repair and maintain the onslaught of possessions gathered, gifted and bought. My closets and email accounts were full, my bank account was empty, and I  had too many commitments on the calendar.

All that clutter found its way into my psyche as well.  The quest for the latest and greatest caused a significant amount of stress - and the same thing was happening to a lot of families I knew. Parents I spoke with felt overwhelmed. On a typical night, they spent hours after work helping overscheduled kids with homework while trying to cook nutritious meals and balance the family budget.

The  search  for  solutions led me to places across the country where simplifying life for kids and grownups was benefiting the whole family.

Part 1: CREATIVE PLAY

In Philadelphia, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, a Temple University psychology professor, urges parents to get the kids away from TV and computer screens, limit organized activities, and encourage children to concoct their own games and adventures with simple toys. 

As she tells correspondent Janet Shamlian, those changes could lead to not only a calmer household, but more creative kids. Giving children time to daydream, she says, is key.

In this segment we'll also see the power of the playground. Darrell Hammond is CEO of KaBoom!, a nonprofit devoted to building outdoor spaces designed to help kids learn how to solve problems through play, stay fit, and improve interpersonal communication.

Could you forgo texting and social media for a week? Look for the second installment of the Back to Basics series on The Daily Nightly on Wednesday.