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Why All Kids Should Build Forts

Forts aren’t just rainy-day distractions — they also help children build creative and analytic skills.
 

Learning Benefits

Hover over each Learning Benefit below for a detailed explanation.
Imagination

By their very nature, home forts are DIY. Kids channel their inner decorators, or perhaps their inner hunter-gatherers: Sofa, blankets, comforters, and boxes are all fair game. If nothing else, a fort is an escape to another world that reaches into the depths of one's imagination.

"Forts are opportunities for kids to have unstructured, un-curated playtime,” says Mark Lund, who created LivingRoomFort.com. Lund has had plenty of experience with the art: As a boy, he constructed many a fortress with his brother on rainy days. And now, his two daughters, ages 2 and 6, are avid fort-builders. Below, we chat with him about the fun, old-fashioned tradition.

What makes a good fort: You can throw a sheet over your kitchen table, and kids will be distracted for hours. Forts are not only a way to entertain kids on rainy days, but also a great stand-in when their other toys lose appeal. They epitomize imaginative play.

Something all forts have in common: Younger kids may just lean cushions against a coffee table while older kids may construct something more elaborate. Regardless of age, however, all kids drag their favorite things into forts — stuffed animals, stacks of books, and piles of snacks. They decorate their own space, which builds creativity.

How parents can help: Allow kids to build on their own — without tearing apart the house, of course. It’s exciting for parents to watch their kids playing and creating their own narratives. In today’s world, things are very structured and curated for kids. But building and talking about forts brings adults back to the purest qualities of their own childhoods.

Megan Hess is the digital editor at Parent & Child magazine.

Photo: LivingRoomFort.com / Mark Lund

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