Why do we get uncomfortable with the word “play”? Why do we suddenly feel like our child is not being “productive” or learning enough? Or that we are doing something wrong if “all” our child is doing is playing?
While the discussion around this can be quite lengthy (and could get a little heated) it comes down to the lack of understanding surrounding the importance of play, among society as a whole.
Educators, academics, and families alike have championed play throughout the decades. However, there’s still this fear among adults that play is not productive, children aren’t learning anything, and those who support and promote play do not take childhood seriously.
But let me tell you, a child at a play can be serious business! And adults who advocate for play are seriously knowledgeable about early childhood. (Not to toot our own horns, or anything)
So how do we get comfortable with talking about and promoting play for young children?
We get serious about it!
The number and type of skills that children learn and practice through play is staggering. The smallest engagement or interaction in play can afford children the opportunity to practice their language skills, counting, critical thinking, imagination, empathy and kindness, and so much more. Seriously, the list is long!
What is this list, you say? Here’s our version!
Children learn as they play. More importantly, in play, children learn how to learn. – O. Fred Donaldson
Often times as adults we get caught up in this need to be productive, to produce tangible proof of our productivity and skill, and to continually be moving forward to some unidentified end point. And while there are certainly benefits, even needs met, in this lifestyle, there is something missing. And for us to turn around and place the same expectations and demands on children robs them of so much.
So perhaps the clearer statement is this: our discomfort as adults cannot be allowed to negatively impact the importance of play in childhood, nor the advocacy for play for our youngest citizens.
And perhaps the bigger question becomes, how can we (adults) see the purpose of play?
Stay tuned for our upcoming blog post The Purpose of Play for more!
Did you find this inspiring? Thought-provoking? Let us know in the comments section!