Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Value Of Play

We've returned from a dirty, dusty, adventure-filled afternoon at the sooper-dee-dooper deluxe playground. Many of our homeschool friends were there, too.

All of us mommies stood around and talked about babies (the ones here and the ones almost here) and, oddly enough, the stimulus package. I was pleasantly surprised to find that we were all in general agreement about the main points--nice, that.

As we mommies chatted and wrangled various toddlers, we watched the older kids run and jump off of high play equipment, fill their pockets with dirt and rocks (Ryan), make dirt angels (Morgan), organize armies (guess who?), breathe fresh air, settle disputes, soak up sunshine . . . in other words, just play.

My kids in particular really needed an afternoon like this, as they have been ricocheting off of the walls lately. They are dirty and exhausted and happy right now. We have a sitter tonight, so I'm hopeful they'll be nice and chill while she's here.

Anyway, the whole reason I started this post is to link you to a timely article from Scientific American called "The Serious Need for Play." From the beginning of the article:

  • Childhood play is crucial for social, emotional and cognitive ­development.
  • Imaginative and rambunctious “free play,” as opposed to games or structured activities, is the most essential type.
  • Kids and animals that do not play when they are young may grow into anxious, socially maladjusted adults.
My kids do organized activities--more than some kids, fewer than others--but mostly they are off on their own, free to do what they like, playing in their own way. If I ever thought we did so many activities that this free time was encroached upon, we'd drop our activities immediately. (I think we have a nice balance now.)

As a general rule, Brendan and I try to err on the side of providing them more freedom, more space, and more time--the better for them to make their own discoveries, to be independent, to get to know the world, to be happy.

Anyway, interesting article. Go check it out!

Via Happy As Kings

1 comment:

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

We grownups need play, too, and when we do fun and interesting things, neurogenesis ramps up in the hippocampus!

I am so glad to hear that many of us, who seem so different, are in agreement about the so-called stimulus. Now why can't we get our government to listen to us?