Updated: Apr 3, 2020
Read Day 17 4.1.20
There are many reasons why play is important. During stressful situations children use play as a method of coping. Through play they can better understand their own emotions and those of others. Peter Gray, a Professor at Boston University has made it his life's work to study play and self-directed learning in a psychological and evolutionary manner. He states that his research reveals that a “...major purpose for play in children's lives is to provide a simulation world in which to practice the skills required for successful development towards adulthood.”
During play children are in charge of their own activities.They are able to:
Structure their own activities
Solve their own problems
Relate to peers as equals
When adults are present and guide the activities, or intervene, or solve children’s problems for them, they ruin play. They deprive children of the opportunity to practice doing those things on their own.
However, I am not saying there isn't room for adult led activities as well (in most schools that's their entire day). The need to schedule in self-directed play is also meaningful. I know many of you will hear your kids say:
“I'm bored!” Answer: that sucks! From boredom sparks creativity.
“I don't know what to do!”. Answer: hmmm, what do you want to do?
“Can you play with me?” Answer: yes if you want to let them lead and no if you want a break!
This may take some time for you to begin to see results because kids are used to being occupied and led.
Researchers have linked a decline of play to a decline in creativity over the past 30 years with the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking. When play is adult led, guided or rewarded then that activity is no longer play. Play by definition is self directed, intrinsically motivated, personally directed and conducted for no reward outside of itself. Play is when kids develop their creative potentials because they can explore and develop new ways of thinking and acting since there's no one there to judge them. They can also fail without fear.
Creative people are naturally innovative and that is a skill that can lead to success in multiple disciplines or fields.
You can’t teach creativity, but you can destroy it.
Right now, let's make lemonade out of lemons and use this opportunity to change that decline in creativity by letting our children play.
All of the teachers are telling us not to worry about the academic aspect, that kids are resilient. Teachers give out homework and even if you are enforcing that, it shouldn't take more than two hours a day. Screens can take up another two hours on average and then there is still a majority of the day when kids could be playing. Even better if that's happening outdoors (because of the multiple healing aspects of nature and the outdoors).
Read Day 17 4.1.20