Max Schulte / WXXI News

A new route between The Strong Museum of Play and the Central Library officially opened in Rochester on Thursday.

The sidewalks are sprinkled with blue and yellow dots. There’s a new foosball table at the library. (“I just happen to love foosball,” City Council parks and public works committee chair Mitch Gruber said at a news conference to mark the opening.)

There’s a large Connect Four game at a bus stop on Court Street, and there are musical instruments open to the public at Martin Luther King Jr. Park.

The mayor of Ithaca has declared the city to be a “free range kids city.” Mayor Svante Myrick says he believes in the power of play, and Ithaca’s proclamation supports parents who give their kids unsupervised, unstructured play time.

This hour, we discuss the free-range parenting movement and how unstructured play can impact child development. We also talk about the barriers to free-range play and how parents can overcome them. Our guests:



Flashy digital toys provide intense stimulation for young children, but they cannot match the developmental benefits offered by traditional toys like boxes and blocks, according to a report released this week by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

WATCH: Getting kids outside and playing more

Aug 7, 2017

Here’s a stat that may surprise you. Only 12 percent of youth in Greater Rochester and the Finger Lakes are getting daily physical activity. This means the majority of area youth are not getting 60 minutes a day of active time. That’s one of the stats released in a recent report by the Aspen Institute. The findings are being used by the Rochester Area Community Foundation and the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation to improve access to sports, among other things, for area kids. Why this matters to all area residents and what’s being done to address gaps that exist with youth sports and recreational activities on this edition of Need to Know.

What does the increasing emphasis on testing do to our pre-schoolers?

Erika Christakis is the author of The Importance of Being Little: What Preschoolers Really Need from Grownups. Her book is an examination of how we expect kids to learn, and why we tend to de-emphasize play and creativity. We talk about the consequences and the changes she would prefer. Our guests:

While more schools are cutting recess and physical play opportunities, there are some schools that have tried to expand play-based learning. An upcoming conference hosted by Generation 2 aims to do exactly that. We talk to the organizers. Our guests:

  • Bill Cala, former superintendent of Fairport Central School District
  • Bruce Gilberg, founder of Generation 2
  • Melanie Mroz, executive director of Generation 2

On Education Friday, we hear often about the value of play early in life... but what does the research say? Our guests will explain how play impacts learning, and how physical activity can set the stage for intellectual development. Our guests weigh in:

  • Cindy Anderson, occupational therapy/physical therapy supervisor at Clinical Associates of the Finger Lakes
  • Stephanie Dickson, physical therapist, Clinical Associates of the Finger Lakes