The most demanding and beneficial work that children can do is to play.
The problem, as I see it, is that too many people cannot, or will not, understand the importance of children’s play.
How many times have you heard an adult say something along the lines of,
“I can’t wait for him to get to school and do some real work instead of playing all the time”
If you have never observed a child or children playing naturally, I urge you to take the time and watch the learning taking place.
Whether they are 3 months old, 2 years old or any other age, it is a privilege to be allowed an insight into the amount of learning and development going on. A baby throwing an object and waiting for it to be picked up again and again may seem monotonous but the amount of learning and joy it brings to a baby is huge.
The ‘cause and effect’ of throwing an object and then to see and hear it reach the floor is a prerequisite to learning about gravity. It seems far-fetched doesn’t it? But without these early experiences the pieces of the jigsaw don’t fit together.
It is a revelation for a child to learn this and the thrill of this discovery means it needs to be done over and over again. This is a necessary step and once it has been replayed – lots of times – the novelty will wear off and another activity will take its place.
As toddlers, the tidying can become a game; putting objects into pots can while a way many happy minutes
I think memory loss in adults is one of the reasons for not understanding the importance of play. If you think back as far as you can go and think about your ‘playtime’.
Try to work out what you learnt from during times. A playground can bring back memories of freedom, laughter and imaginative play. It wasn’t just once; you went back time after time learning how to play and communicate with other children, create imaginative games, solve problems and picking up a range of new vocabulary.
Play is spontaneous.
Play happens naturally.
Play happens everywhere.
Don’t impose negative attitudes on children’s play. It is a crucial part of their development.
Adults see play as a break from ‘work’; a time for leisure. For children, play is the work.
Do you have fond childhood memories?
Why not share them here. It would be lovely to hear from you.
Playground Photo accredited to John Rostron